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UK car manufacturing slumps by 95.4 per cent in May to 5,000 vehicles – worst May since 1946

Time 11 months ago

UK car manufacturing output fell 95.4 per cent in May says SMMT data.

According to its latest figures, just 5,314 vehicles rolled off production lines during the month – a slight improvement on April, when only 197 units were built.

But with factories still closed or running at reduced capacity it still marked the worst May since 1946.

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The SMMT  data shows that two thirds of UK car factories got back to business but capacity was severely reduced thanks to social distancing and reduced demand with key global markets only just beginning to reopen and the UK remaining in lockdown.

Just over 4,200 cars were exported in May, most into the EU, the US and China, and with English car showrooms not reopening until June 1, only 1,054 models were built for domestic buyers.

In the first five months, UK factories turned out 324,763 cars, representing a decline of 41.7 per cent on the same period in 2019 and a loss of more than 230,000 units, with the full year outlook now expected to be fewer than one million units.

The news comes as SMMT’s latest member survey reveals the challenges companies face as they emerge from the pandemic.

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While government support schemes have provided a lifeline for many businesses, in particular the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, liquidity is still a major issue for automotive businesses as they seek to ramp up operations, with 70 per cent experiencing challenges in this area.

Potentially up to one in six jobs is at risk of redundancy when the furlough scheme comes to an end in November.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘May’s figures are yet more evidence of why the UK industry, like its global rivals, needs dedicated support to drive a successful restart.

‘Government assistance so far has been vital in keeping many businesses afloat, but the job isn’t done. Measures to boost cashflow, including additional and tailored finance schemes, tax relief and business rates deferral would deliver immediate results when liquidity is most acute.

‘We have to retain the highly skilled jobs the sector provides but also ensure the business conditions are competitive so we can unlock the investment that will drive long-term recovery – a green recovery – which is inextricably linked the sector’s success.’

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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