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September was the worst month for UK car manufacturing since 1982

  • UK car factories churned out just 67,169 cars in last month – the worst September since 1982
  • Alternatively fuelled cars provide positive news, however
  • SMMT not impressed by chancellor’s Budget

Time 1 month ago

UK car production plummeted by a whopping 41.5 per cent last month making it the worst September since 1982, new figures show.

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows 67,169 cars were built in September, and that overall production continues to be be blighted by a global shortage of semiconductors.

The SMMT also said the numbers were down due to the closure of one UK car factory.


The figures come soon after the chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed £817m of funding for the transition in automotive manufacturing and business rate relief on renewable energy.

Despite the ‘ongoing challenges’, said the SMMT, production of pure-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) cars continued to break records in September.

These cars now represent almost a third (32.3 per cent) of all cars made, equivalent to 21,679 units.

It means UK car factories have turned out 158,710 alternatively fuelled cars since January.


Both production for domestic and export markets fell significantly during the month, down 47.4 per cent and 39.6 per cent, respectively with just 52,872 cars shipped overseas.

The SMMT said the fall was caused by a decline of exactly a third to the EU as well as falls in exports to Turkey, Australia and the USA which dropped 97.4 per cent, 71.4 per cent and 60.2 per cent respectively.

Production year-to-date remains marginally up, by 3.8 per cent, with 656,776 cars rolling off factory lines, which has largely been driven by exports with 82.7 per cent of production heading for markets abroad.

However, the SMMT said this does not paint the full picture, with the year-to-date total down 33.5 per cent over 2019’s performance and 44.1 per cent – equivalent to 517,438 fewer units – less when compared to the five-year pre-pandemic average.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘The substantial decline in UK car output in September continues the worrying trend we have seen over the past three months.

‘The industry is continuing to battle the effects of the pandemic with the shortage of semiconductors stalling production.

‘Whilst there was welcome news in the Budget to support the transition to zero emission vehicle production, battery manufacturing and supply chains, it missed the opportunity to offer meaningful short-term support given Covid-related supply constraints and rising energy bills.

‘This is disappointing given the sector’s importance and its ability to create well-paid jobs across the regions and the revenues it generates, notably from exports.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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