UK vehicle production hits one million in 2023, SMMT claims

Car stuff, Electric Vehicles

  • UK vehicle production tops one million units, up 17.0% in best year since 2019.
  • 905,117 cars and 120,357 commercial vehicles made, with record electrified model output.
  • £23.7 billion of private and public investment commitments announced in 2023.
  • UK must now ramp up EV supply chain and deliver return on investments.

UK vehicle production hit 1,025,474 units in 2023, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

With 905,117 cars and 120,357 commercial vehicles (CVs) produced, output was up 17.0% on the previous year. The easing of pandemic-related challenges, from chip shortages to lockdowns, and increasing electrified model production, combined to drive annual output above one million for the first time since 2019.

Strong December performances for both car manufacturing, up 20.7% year on year, and CV volumes, up 80.3%, rounded off a positive year, which saw a revival of the industry’s fortunes. Eight all-new cutting-edge models entered production in 2023, including at the newly reopened Ellesmere Port EV-only plant, while some £23.7 billion of private and public investment commitments were made – more than in the previous seven years combined.

These commitments will drive green economic growth, create jobs nationwide and transition the sector to electrified vehicle manufacturing, which has already hit record levels in 2023. UK production of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) vehicles surged to 346,451 units, up 48.0% on the year before to account for almost two-fifths (38.3%) of overall output.

Overall, UK car production rose 16.8% in 2023, its best growth rate since 2010, with the total retail value of all models made coming in at more than £50 billion. While 191,247 cars were built for domestic buyers, the lion’s share of output was shipped overseas, evidence of the contribution automotive exports make to the UK economy. Year on year, exports rose 17.6% compared with a 13.7% rise in output for the British market.

The EU remained by far the sector’s largest global market, taking 60.3% of exports, with shipments up almost a quarter (23.2%) to 430,411 units. The US was the next biggest destination with a 10.3% share of exports (73,571 units), followed by China with 7.2% (51,202 units), despite shipments to both slipping by -9.1% and -2.7% respectively. Turkey, conversely, saw exports surge 223.8% to 27,346 units, making it the UK’s fourth biggest global market ahead of Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, UAE and Switzerland.

Says Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive:

“Receding supply chain challenges, new model introductions and a massive £23.7 billion of investment put UK vehicle production firmly back on track in 2023. Industry will now focus on delivering these commitments, transitioning the sector at pace to electric and scaling up the supply chain.

“With global competition as fierce as it has ever been and amid escalating geopolitical tensions, both government and industry must remain singularly focused on competitiveness, with all the jobs and growth this will bring. We are in a much better position than a year ago, but the challenges are unrelenting.”


Chris Price
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