car manufacturing

Electric vehicle boost fails to stem plummeting output from UK car makers

UK car production fell by 28.7 per cent in November to 75,756 units despite booming sales in electric vehicles (EVs), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said.

The new figures show it was the fifth consecutive month of decline for UK automakers and represents the worst November performance since 1984 as the worldwide shortage of semiconductors continues to bite.

It also reflects the loss of output arising from the closure of a UK car factory in the summer, a situation that will impact year-on-year comparisons until July 2022.

British production of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars took a record share of production, accounting for around a third (32.7 per cent) of all cars made in the month, and more than a quarter (25.5 per cent) over the year-to-date.

EV output in particular was up in November by 52.9 per cent to 10,359 units, hitting a new high of 13.7 per cent of all production, more than double the level a year ago.

With the UK heading towards a total ban of fossil-fuel-powered cars by 2030, purchases of EVs have been soaring. 

But MPs on the Public Accounts Committee warned this year that the UK still faces an uphill struggle to try and meet its 2030 target.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “These are incredibly worrying figures, underscoring the severity of the situation facing the automotive industry.

“Covid is impacting supply chains massively, causing global shortages – especially of semiconductors – which is likely to affect the sector throughout next year.

“With an increasingly negative economic backdrop, rising inflation and Covid resurgent home and abroad, the circumstances are the toughest in decades.

“With output massively down for the past five months and likely to continue, maintaining cashflow, especially in the supply chain, is of vital importance. We have to look to government to provide support measures in the same way it is recognising other Covid-impacted sectors."

He added: “The industry is as well prepared as it can be for the implementation of full customs controls at UK borders from 1 January but any delays arising from ill-prepared freight or systems will place further stress on businesses that operate ‘just in time’.

“Should any problems arise, contingency measures must be implemented immediately to keep cross-border trade flowing smoothly.”

Executives from Acer and Intel recently predicted that the global semiconductor shortage will continue until at least next year, affecting most industries which rely on chips for manufacturing.

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