Car production still slowed by pandemic supply shortages

Published:  25 June, 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic is still impacting on UK car production, with overall numbers still down compared to 2019 as component shortages persist. Despite this, May saw the number of cars rolling out off the line shoot right up, with EVs and hybrids making up more of the total.

54,962 cars were built in the UK in May according to the latest figures from the SMMT, compared with 5,314 in May 2020. However, this is still 52.6% lower than in pre-pandemic May 2019.

429,826 cars were built in UK factories so far this year, 105,063 up on 2019. 95.3% of the extra volume is for export.

The industry is still facing component shortages, a situation that is reflected worldwide across the global supply chain as countries attempt to ramp back up to economic activity seen before 2020. For example, a shortage of semiconductors continues. Based on a five-year average, production was down 58% in May and 36.3% for the period January – May.

During May, 19.2% of all UK car output was EVs and hybrids, while in the year-to-date one in five vehicles manufactured in the UK were alternatively-fuelled models. However, this share drops to one in 16 for pure battery electric vehicles and 1 in six for hybrid cars.

Commenting on the figures, Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, “May’s figures continue to look inflated when compared to last year’s near total standstill of production lines. The recovery of car production is, however, still massively challenged here and abroad by global supply shortages, particularly semiconductors. If the UK is to remain competitive, therefore, it must ensure it has a globally attractive policy framework for both vehicle production and the supply chain. Accelerating zero emission car production is part of this package, so while one in five models made here this year is alternatively fuelled, we need to drive investment in R&D, charging infrastructure and the market to ensure we can deliver the net zero future society demands.”

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