SMMT News UK Manufacturing

Car manufacturing dips as factories switch to electric models

27 June 2024 #SMMT News #UK Manufacturing
  • UK car manufacturing output down -11.9% in May as factories continue to retool for an electric mobility future.
  • Almost 70,000 cars made, with output for the UK rising by 9.7% as exports decline by -17.4%.
  • SMMT’s Vision 2035: Ready to Grow shows how output could surpass a million BEVs a year – worth some £290 billion over the next decade – with the right policies in place.

UK car manufacturing output declined by -11.9% to 69,652 units in May, according to new figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Production for the UK market rose by 9.7% to 17,754 units but did not offset a -17.4% decline in volumes for export, at 51,898 units. Despite the fall, almost three quarters (74.5%) of all cars built in Britain were exported to global markets, with more than half (52.5%) going to the EU followed by the US (18.2%) and Turkey, which took 8.0% of shipments.

Electrified vehicle (battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid) production remained robust, with 26,475 units leaving factory gates – representing almost two fifths (38.0%) of all output, up by three percentages points compared with May 2023. The share will only grow as manufacturers invest in greener product lines and technology to deliver Britain’s net zero ambitions. As countries around the world continue to compete for such investment in their own industries, the UK must do all it can to position itself ahead of the competition.

With a general election in a week’s time, SMMT’s Vision 2035: Ready to Grow sets out the priorities the sector wants to see from the next government. This means backing British manufacturing and attracting green investment through an industrial strategy that guarantees affordable and sustainably energy, upscaled supply chains, new skills for the UK’s talented workforce, vibrant zero emission vehicle markets, and strong trading relationships that are fair and without barriers. Success would see the sector deliver a cumulative value of more than £290 billion of zero emission vehicles by the end of 2035, with UK factories producing more than a million battery electric cars and vans a year.1

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Massive change is underway in the UK’s car factories as manufacturers retool for new electric models. Amid strong international competition for green automotive investment, however, the UK needs to ensure it has the most attractive conditions for manufacturing businesses and a compelling offer for existing and new investors. Essential to this is a long-term industrial strategy, which encompasses all industry, all stakeholders and all of government in the pursuit of sustainable and green growth.

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