UK car production last year fell to its lowest level since 1956, according to annual statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
It said a total of 775,014 cars were built in 2022 – a 9.8 per cent slump on the 859,575 made during the previous year, when the recession and pandemic were still gripping businesses.
The industry blamed the global shortage of semiconductors and other supply chain issues but also highlighted the the closure of Honda’s factory in Swindon in July 2021 and the decision by Stellantis to stop producing the Vauxhall Astra in Ellesmere Port in April 2022 as factors in the decline.
Despite growth in October and November, December saw a return to decline with output down 17.9 per cent year on year and overall, numbers were 40.5 per cent down on pre-coronavirus levels in 2019.
Volumes for the UK dealers last year were up 9.4 per cent compared with 2021, but this failed to offset a 14 per cent decline in exports, with four out of five UK-built cars shipped overseas.
As demand increased, electric vehicle production reached about 1:3 and these earned about £10B in export orders.
SMMT CEO Mike Hawes called for the UK Government to concentrate on backing electric traction battery production to make the country attractive to foreign car makers and boost jobs as a result.
He was speaking after BritishVolt pulled the plug on plans for a gigaplant in the North East due to lack of investors and sales potential for their batteries. There are hopes that another company, possibly from China, will take on the business.