UK car production slumps in July to lowest level since 1956 as chip shortage bites

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Car manufacturing output in July plummeted to its lowest level since 1956, as the industry struggled with the global shortage of computer chips and Covid-related staff absences.


British car production totalled just 53,438 units in July, a drop of 37.6% compared with the same month in 2020, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


Production for the UK market declined by 38.7%, while manufacturing for export was 37.4% lower.


Output for the year to date rose by 18.3% to 552,361 cars compared with 2020, when production was severely affected by Covid-19 restrictions, but fell by 28.7% compared with pre-pandemic 2019, when 774,760 cars were produced.


Alternatively fuelled cars continued to increase their share of production. In July, battery electric (BEV), plug in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid electric (HEV) cars accounted for 26% of the total output, their highest share on record.


SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said UK car makers are facing “extremely tough condions” and while staffing will benefit from the lifting of Covid self-isolation restrictions, the global semiconductor shortage shows few signs of improving.


“The UK automotive industry is doing what it can to keep production lines going, testament to the adaptability of its workforce and manufacturing processes, but government can help by continuing the supportive Covid measures currently in place and boosting our competitiveness with a reduction in energy levies and business rates for a sector that is strategically important in delivering net zero,” Hawes said.


READ: Used car prices rising at record rate, inflation data highlights



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