UK car production was stable in the first month of 2023, with output down just -0.3% to 68,575 units, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The loss, equivalent to just 215 fewer cars, was driven chiefly by structural changes, reflecting a move from car to van making at one major plant, but with supply chain shortages still afflicting some manufacturers.
The ongoing shift to electrified car production continued, with combined battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicle volumes up 49.9% to 28,329 units. They represented more than four in every 10 (41.3%) cars made in January, a near record monthly share, and further evidence of the UK’s capability in making these important models, most of which (77.0%) are exported to meet global demand.
Production for the UK rose 5.6% to 12,196 units, while exports declined by -1.5%, largely due to the suspension of shipments to Russia, which accounted for 83.6% of the loss. In total, some 56,379 cars – more than eight in 10 of all those produced – were destined for overseas markets, with over half of these (56.6%) for the EU, with next most important global destinations the US (9.3%), China (8.8%), Japan (4.4%) and Australia (3.3%).
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Automotive manufacturing can drive long-term growth for the low carbon economy but the sector needs competitive conditions to attract investment.
“Recent global developments, however, suggest increasing protectionism which, if not challenged or mitigated, could put the UK at a disadvantage. To deliver a wholesale industrial transformation we need a competitive framework and a pitch that promotes advanced vehicle manufacturing internationally. We now look to the forthcoming Budget for the necessary measures that will enable the automotive sector to deliver its undoubted potential.”
The latest independent outlook anticipates UK car output rising by 9% to 842,200 cars this year, driven by growth in electrified vehicle production. By 2025 car and light van production volumes are predicted to surpass one million vehicles.
UK commercial vehicle (CV) production grew 35.6% in the first month of 2023, with 9,299 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches leaving factory lines, added the SMMT.
Growth in the month was driven primarily by exports, with 5,326 units produced for international markets. More than half of all British-built CVs (57.3%) set sail for abroad, with the EU, which remains the UK’s biggest overseas customer, responsible for 91.8% of these exports. The domestic market also recorded growth, with output up 36.2% to 3,973 units.