Car production pic (PM visit to Nissan plant, undated), via PACar production pic (PM visit to Nissan plant, undated), via PA

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Car production falls by more than a quarter as factories adjust for new models

  • Car manufacturing fell by 27.1% last month, says SMMT
  • March’s drop was the first decline since last August
  • Decline was expected as factories look to produce next generation of cars
  • Electrified vehicles comprised more than a third of output
  • Car production was up during first quarter

Time 7:26 am, April 25, 2024

Car production dropped by more than a quarter in March as factories adjusted for new models.

That’s according to figures released today by the SMMT, which said 59,467 cars were built – down by 27.1% versus a year ago.

It was the first decline since last August, although the trade body said it was in line with expectations for a variable year as manufacturers adjusted factories to produce the next generation of cars – notably electric.


Volumes for the UK fell by 0.3% to 19,995 units, while production for export was down by 35.9% to 39,472 units, but it still saw more than six in 10 cars made last month shipped overseas.

The EU got the bulk of exports (57.9%) followed by the US (11.4%), China (5.9%), Australia (4.0%) and Japan (1.8%).

Electrified vehicle (battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid) models represented more than a third of all production again at 38.4%, with manufacturers together producing 22,865 units.


But this was down 29.7% on the year before, which the SMMT said reflected in part issues such as model changeovers.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘This fall is not unexpected given the wholesale changes taking place within UK car factories as existing models are run out and more plants transition to electric vehicle production.

‘We can expect further volatility throughout 2024 as manufacturers lay the foundations for a successful zero-emission future.

‘Recent investment announcements have boosted confidence and enhanced the UK’s reputation but there needs to be an unrelenting commitment to competitiveness.

‘Free and fair trade deals must be secured, energy costs reduced and the workforce upskilled if we are to attract further investment to improve productivity and decarbonise automotive manufacturing and its supply chain.’

Car production remained up 1.1% in the first quarter at 222,371 units, versus the same period a year ago.

The latest independent production outlook now expects UK car and light van production to fall by 6.2% to around 940,000 units this year, mainly because of multiple model changeovers, before returning to growth in 2025, said the SMMT.

Output is anticipated to get back above a million units from 2026 and reach 1.2m before the end of the decade as more EV production comes on-stream.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.



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