According to the most recent report by the trade body, production of new cars in Britain fell by 41.4 percent last month. This was due to a global shortage of semiconductor chips as well as a closing of ten plants.

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that 64,729 vehicles were rolled off British production line lines.

Due to supply chain difficulties worldwide and Honda’s closure of their factory in late Jul, the fall was reflected and it is now the UK’s lowest output October 1956.

UK car production slumps to 65-year low: A total of 64,729 cars rolled off British production lines last month - the lowest in October since 1956, record show

UK car production slumps to 65-year low: A total of 64,729 cars rolled off British production lines last month – the lowest in October since 1956, record show

A shortage of semiconductor chips means car makers are unable to produce enough cars to meet the massive demand from consumers - which in turn is causing huge delivery delay times

Due to a shortage of semiconductor chips, car manufacturers are not able to make enough cars to satisfy the huge demand. This is leading to massive delivery delays.

In the first 10 months, the car output was 721,505 cars. That’s down 2.9% from 2020 which saw sites closed for many months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the second consecutive year, full-year vehicle and van production will drop below one million, however, it is predicted that this number will rise in 2022 according to the SMMT, citing AutoAnalysis’ independent forecast.

While total outputs were down, production of electrified cars remained healthy.

In October, almost three quarters of the UK’s vehicles were made up by hybrids (HEV), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and plug-in Hybrids (PHEV).

Month 2021 saw zero emission model productions exceed 50,000. That’s more than 43,790 pure electric vehicles that were produced prior to the pandemic. Also, manufacturing of EVs rose 17.5 percent and reached 8,454 units.

While total outputs were down, production of electrified cars - like Mini's Electric built in Oxford - remained healthy

Despite the decline in total production, there was still a healthy supply of electric cars – such as Mini Electrics built in Oxford –

Mike Hawes chief executive at SMMT said that the numbers were ‘extremely alarming’.

‘Britain’s automotive sector is resilient, but with Covid resurgent across some of our largest markets and global supply chains stretched and even breaking, the immediate challenges in keeping the industry operational are immense,’ he added. 

KPMG’s UK Head of Automotive Richard Peberdy stated that the shortage of semiconductor chips has forced carmakers to prioritize models and markets and that they are likely to do so until 2022.

He stated that inflationary pressures have only made the situation more difficult, and therefore forecasts need to be revised.

“But while there are less cars being produced, the ones that are are are still selling are doing so quickly and at a lower price than they were previously.

“Demand is outpacing supply and there will be plenty of demand for products on the forecourts when supply chain problems are resolved.

“But for now, that will still be a long way away for a few carmakers.”

Motor bosses called on the Government to provide more support to the sector, which is one of the largest industries in the country employing more than 790,000 people

Motor industry bosses urged the government to support the sector which employs more than 790,000.

The SMMT used results from the survey to appeal to the Government for support to the industry in ‘tackling high fuel costs, supporting training, and aiding businesses whose cashflow has been affected by these historically low production numbers’. 

Jim Holder, editor at What Car?, agreed with the call for more support as the sector’s recovery continues to be hampered by supply shortages.

‘The UK automotive sector is one of the largest industries in the country, with a £60.2 billion turnover and employing more than 790,000 people,’ Holder said. 

‘Adding up to £11.9 billion to the UK’s economy each year, the sector is in a crisis and needs support from the Government to thrive again.

‘Estimates suggest the microchip shortage will continue well into 2022, and the industry cannot sustain similar performances like today’s in the long run. 

From helping investors in electric vehicles to improving business rates and energy costs, support will be required. As the UK shifts to electric vehicles, support becomes more critical than ever.

The Van Production INCREASES in Oct 

While passenger car manufacturing in the UK fell to a 65-year low, production of vans and commercial vehicles increased by 17.2 per cent.

According to the SMMT, October saw the construction of 7,892 units. This is the largest monthly increase since June.

This follows an October 2020 that was weak. Operators delayed renewing their fleets due to uncertainty about a no deal Brexit and the pandemic.

Domestic demand drove the increase in output, rising by 29%, and export vans increased by 6.8%.  

There have been some 58.813 commercial vehicles produced so far in Britain in 2021 – an increase by 15.6 percentage against 2020’s Covid. 

However, when compared to the five-year pre-coronavirus average, output remains 18 per cent down, with ‘pingdemic’ staff shortages earlier in the year and the ongoing impact of the semiconductor shortage restricting production.

Hawes explained that while significant increases in CV production were welcome news in October, they must be considered in relation to a weak month for 2020. 

The sector faces ongoing challenges from pandemics, and the most notable, the semiconductor shortage. And there is still plenty of uncertainty over the next months. 

“The UK manufacturers will do everything they can to maintain production lines, get more new, cleaner CVs onto the roads, boost fleet renewal and improve urban air quality. 


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