British car production fell by 9.8% in 2022, affected by semiconductor shortages, factory closures and component supply disruptions from China, the Producers Association (SMMT) reported today.

Last year, 775,014 units were produced, the lowest figure since 1956, and 40.5% short of the 1,303,135 cars manufactured in 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to the constraints caused by the global semiconductor crisis, which has been limiting production capacity since 2020, the sector was also affected by the closure of the Honda factories in Swindon and Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port, and by the confinements in China related to the covid-19 pandemic, which destabilized the supply of components.

Last year, British car exports fell by 14%, in particular to Russia (-78.3%), one of the top 10 markets in 2021, but where sales have stopped since the invasion of Ukraine, and China (- 31.6%).

Despite the fact that the United Kingdom has left the European single market, the European Union (EU) remains the main destination for exports, accounting for 57.6%, even after a 10% drop in 2022.

On the contrary, exports soared to South Korea (+32.8%) and South Africa (+23.0%).

SMMT has optimistic forecasts for the coming years, anticipating that the production of cars and vans will increase by 15% in 2023 to 984,000 units and foresees that the barrier of one million vehicles will be surpassed again in 2025.

The numbers released today demonstrate the increasing weight of electric vehicles in the sector, which represented 30% of the total units produced and 50% of the value of exports in 2022.

The industry is under pressure from the Government to accelerate the transition and stop building combustion engines by 2035, and SMMT Executive Chairman Mike Hawes believes the potential of clean vehicles is “evident”.

However, he argues that success depends on an increase in battery production in the United Kingdom, workforce requalification and investment.

“The potential of this sector to generate economic growth, through the construction of more zero emission models is evident, however, we have to make the right decisions now”, he said.


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