UK car production slumps to lowest in 67 years

Manufacturing output fell nearly 10% but electric vehicles and luxury cars set records

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Car production in Britain fell to its lowest level in 67 years in 2022, the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed.

SMMT said 775,014 cars were made in Britain last year, 9.8 per cent fewer than in 2021 and 40.5 per cent below 2019 pre-pandemic levels. It is also the lowest annual output level since 1956.

However, a record 234,066 electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hybrid electric vehicles were made in the UK last year, with combined volumes rising 4.5 per cent accounting for a nearly a third of total car production.

"These [overall] figures reflect just how tough 2022 was for UK car manufacturing, though we still made more electric vehicles than ever before," SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said.

But the UK is not alone — the global motor manufacturing sector had for the past two years been struggling with a shortage of key components, especially semiconductor chips. Pandemic lockdown disrupt at factories in China also caused supply chains problems.

In the UK last year, Japan's Nissan produced the most vehicles at more than 238,000, up 16.5 per cent on 2021.

Then came Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover, with nearly 203,000 cars, although this was a decline of 8 per cent.

The most exported model was the Mini, made by the German group BMW, followed by Nissan's Qashqai.

Car production last year fell by nearly a tenth in the UK. PA

Structural changes in the UK car-making sector over the past few years have also contributed to lower production figures.

In October, BMW said it would be moving production of electric Mini hatchbacks from Oxford in England to China. In 2021, Honda closed its site in Swindon that made Civic hatchbacks, and Stellantis stopped making Vauxhalls at its Ellesmere Port factory a year later.

Mr Hawes said car and light-van output should increase by about 15 per cent this year.

"We think we'll get back over a million [cars] probably in two years' time," he said.

On the bright side, it's been a bumper time for Britain's luxury car makers.

Volkswagen-owned Bentley produced more than 15,000 vehicles for the first time at its Crewe plant in Cheshire, while at its factory at Goodwood in West Sussex, Rolls-Royce, a subsidiary of BMW, made a record 6,021 cars last year.

Updated: January 26, 2023, 9:12 AM