UK car production returns to growth in October

By Josh White
Sunrise, Looking Up, Hyatt Centre, Chicago, Illinois, America

UK car production returned to growth in October, rising 7.4% to 69,524 units, according to the latest figures released on Friday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The industry body said the rise followed September’s fall, which came after four consecutive months of growth.

It said that turbulence showed how supply chain volatility, particularly in global chip shortages, was continuing to affect UK car manufacturers.

Although positive, with production for both home and overseas markets up 12.5% and 6.3% respectively, the SMMT said October’s performance was still 48.4% below 2019’s total of 134,669 units, and 52.8% down from the five-year pre-Covid average for the month.

Exports of the latest volume, luxury and specialist models drove volumes in the month, with 81.2% of cars made heading overseas, equivalent to 56,469 units, while 13,055 cars were turned out for the domestic market.

The SMMT said that export growth was led by rising shipments to the United States with growth of 26.4%, with 6% more heading to Japan, South Korea exports rising 68.7%, shipments to Australia improving 125.4%, and Turkey receiving 1,298.7% more vehicles, although total volumes to those markets remained “comparatively small”.

By far the majority of cars heading overseas, at 54.9%, went into the European Union, even though exports to the bloc declined 2.7%.

UK production of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles, meanwhile, rose again, with combined volumes up 20.3% to 24,115 units.

Year-to-date, the SMMT said UK car factories had produced a record 61,339 battery electric vehicles, up 16.2% on the same period in 2021.

“A return to growth for UK car production in October is welcome – though output is still down significantly on pre-Covid levels amid turbulent component supply,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“Getting the sector back on track in 2023 is a priority, given the jobs, exports and economic contribution the automotive industry sustains.

“UK car makers are doing all they can to ramp up production of the latest electrified vehicles, and help deliver net-zero, but more favourable conditions for investment are needed and needed urgently – especially in affordable and sustainable energy and availability of talent – as part of a supportive framework for automotive manufacturing.”

Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.

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