UK car production rose 11.7% in the first half of the year to 450,168 units with June – up 16.2% – the fifth consecutive month of growth, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The performance represented the best first half since 2021 as manufacturers were increasingly able to manage global supply chain challenges – notably the shortage of semiconductors – that had constrained production since the pandemic. However, the production figures are still well below pre-pandemic levels.
The news comes a week after the announcement of the development of a massive new gigafactory for the UK, helping anchor EV production for one of Britain’s biggest car makers.
Importantly, the capacity of UK car makers to turn out the latest, greenest models has increased, with production of hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) up 71.6% from January to June to a record total of 170,231 units. This represents more than a third (37.8%) of all cars produced so far this year – good news given the importance of these products to the future of the industry and wider society in driving down emissions.
With eight-in-ten UK built cars heading to overseas markets, free and fair global trade – especially of the latest, zero emission electric vehicles – is essential. The European Union (EU) remains the UK’s largest export market accounting for 59.5% of all British car shipments, up 11.2% to 214,017 units year to date.
The EU is also the largest source of imported vehicles, so safeguarding this important bilateral trading relationship is essential for both sides, hence the need for a quick and positive outcome to discussions on forthcoming changes to the rules of origin requirements for electrified vehicles and components.
Looking further afield, the US, China, Japan and Australia make up the top five global export destinations for UK cars, with Turkey, South Korea, Canada, the UAE and Mexico completing the top ten. Shipments to most rose, apart from those to the US, down just -0.1% and China, which fell -6.4%.
Says Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive:
“UK car manufacturing is growing again, with production – especially of electrified models – increasing and major investment announcements making headlines. This is testament to the resilience of the sector and its undoubted strengths – a skilled and productive workforce, world-class R&D, and efficient, productive plants.
“But we must build on this momentum, sustain growth and attract further investments with a strategy that focuses on competitiveness and which strengthens the UK’s unique automotive offering.”
The latest independent production outlook shows the potential for UK vehicle manufacturing output. Total UK car production is expected to reach around 860,000 units this year, an uplift of 10.9% on 2022, as the sector recovers from three tough Covid years, with the possibility to get back to near a million cars in 2028.
1: H1 2019 UK car production 666,521 units.
2: Independent production outlook snapshot June 2023 from AutoAnalysis – 2028 expectation based on optimistic scenario, 986k cars.
3: Value based on analysis of new AutoAnalysis outlook ‘optimistic scenario’ for UK production by powertrain and estimates of battery electric vehicle factory gate prices.