Bentley on the production lineBentley on the production line

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Worst November for UK car production since 1984 leads SMMT to consider calling for government support

  • UK car production last month slumped to lowest output since November 1984
  • Just under 76,000 cars left factory gates – a near 29 per cent decline
  • SMMT calls the performance ‘extremely worrying’ and says it needs to ‘look to government’ for support

Time 1 month ago

UK car manufacturing plummeted by nearly 29 per cent last month making it the worst November since 1984.

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released today (Dec 23) show that UK factories churned out 75,756 cars in November – a 28.7 per cent decline on the same month last year.

The performance has been branded ‘incredibly worrying’ by the SMMT’s chief, who also said the organisation needs to ‘look to government’ for support.

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The SMMT said it was the fifth consecutive month of decline, and that factories continued to be hit by a global shortage of semiconductors.

It also noted the figures were affected by the closure of Honda’s plant in the summer, saying this will ‘impact year-on-year comparisons until July 2022’.

Production for both domestic and overseas markets declined, down 18.8 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively, as 30,487 fewer cars rolled off factory lines.

Exports accounted for more than 80 per cent of all cars produced last month. Six-in-ten (60.3 per cent) cars shipped overseas in November headed into Europe. Asia, meanwhile, took 15.6 per cent of UK car exports, the US 13.4 per cent and Australia 1.2 per cent.


We have to look to government to provide support measures in the same way it is recognising other Covid-impacted sectors

British production of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars took a record share of production in November, 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.

Battery electric vehicle output was up in November by almost 53 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, said the SMMT.

Year-to-date, UK car plants have turned out 797,261 units, some 432,794 less than pre-pandemic 2019 and 667,441 off the five-year pre-Covid average for the period of 1,464,702 cars.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘These are incredibly worrying figures, underscoring the severity of 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.

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‘We have to look to government to provide support measures in the same way it is recognising other Covid-impacted sectors.

‘The industry is as well prepared as it can be for the implementation of full customs controls at UK borders from January 1, 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.’

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. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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