UK car production falls for second month running as exports suffer major decline

  • Car production down as sector calls on next government to enhance competitiveness
  • UK car manufacturing output falls 7.0% in April as 61,820 cars roll off production lines
  • Output for the UK up 19.8% but exports suffer 12.7% fall

Time 8:19 am, May 30, 2024

UK car production fell by 7% in April with 61,820 cars rolling off British production lines in the fourth month of the year.

That is according to fresh data from the SMMT, which has now recorded the second consecutive month of decline.

Experts say the fall ‘reflects factory adjustments in preparation for next generation models and their electrified powertrains’.

The figures show that output for the UK actually rose by 19.8% to 14,021 units. However, that failed to offset a 12.7% decline in production for overseas buyers to 47,799 vehicles, with nearly eight in 10 cars made shipped to global markets.

The majority of exports (55.8%) were sent to the EU, followed by the US (15.2%), China (5.4%), Turkey (4.2%) and Australia (2.8%).

The SMMT found that shipments to the US and Turkey rose, with those to the EU, China and Australia all experiencing double digit declines.

When it came to powertrains, a combined 25,031 units were built, representing a small 0.1% rise on the same month in 2023.

Those units – which include battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid – made up 40.5% of volumes, up from 37.7%

For the year as a whole, UK car manufacturing output is now down 0.8% on 2023 volumes, with more than a quarter of a million (284,191) units produced.

Exports have fallen 8.7% to 209,458 units, while production for the UK is up 31.0% to 74,733 units.

Forecasters now expect UK car and light van production to fall 6.2% to some 940,000 units this year, before returning to growth in 2025 and surpassing a million units from 2026 and reaching 1.2m later this decade.

Reacting to the latest figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Another month of falling UK car production was expected given the significant transformation underway within factories as manufacturers retool to produce new models.

‘Keeping this progress on track is essential and requires favourable industrial and market conditions.

‘With a general election in a matter of weeks, the next government must ensure the conditions are right not just for the competitiveness of UK manufacturing, but for the investment required to transition the sector to a net zero future.’

SMMT lays out election demands

As suggested by Hawes, the upcoming general election could represent a major chance for change for UK vehicle production.

With that in mind, the SMMT is calling for the next government to adopt five key pledges set out in its Manifesto 2030 as part of a dedicated industrial strategy.

These include delivering low cost zero carbon energy, ensuring a skilled workforce fit for the future, securing free trade deals with existing and emerging markets, and backing the domestic market for new electric vehicles.

The trade body says that these commitments would bolster the sector’s competitiveness and, drive economic growth and job prosperity across the country, while also delivering on environmental ambitions.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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