Britain’s production of the latest battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles hit a record high in September, accounting for almost a third of all cars made in the country, as wider production dipped for a third consecutive month because of the supply chain crisis.
A total of 21,679 battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and hybrid vehicles (HEV) were produced in the UK last month, with UK car factories turning out 158,710 alternatively fuelled cars since January, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The surge is in stark contrast to the wider market, with car production shrinking 41.5 per cent overall with only 67,169 vehicles produced in September – the third consecutive month of decline and the worst-performing September since 1982.
“The substantial decline in UK car output in September continues the worrying trend we have seen over the past three months,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT.
“The industry is continuing to battle the effects of the pandemic with the shortage of semiconductors stalling production.”
Britain's automotive sector was hammered last year after new car sales suffered their biggest fall since the 1940s, as Covid-enforced showroom closures took their toll on the industry.
New car registrations fell to 1.63 million in 2020, a decline of 29 per cent on 2019 and the biggest annual percentage drop since the Second World War, while this year the sector has had to grapple with a global shortage of semiconductors.
While Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget confirmed £817 million ($1.123 billion) of funding for the transition in automotive manufacturing and business rate relief on renewable energy, the industry continues to battle against the effects of the pandemic.
About one in 10 automotive companies have made redundancies or restructured their businesses as a direct result of the lack of semiconductors, the SMMT said.
Production for domestic and export markets fell significantly during the month, down 47.4 per cent and 39.6 per cent respectively, with 52,872 cars shipped overseas, the SMMT said.
The decrease in exports was caused by a decline of a third to the European Union as well as falls in exports to Turkey, Australia and the USA.
"While 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,” Mr Hawes said.
"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."