UK car production slump | Industry - Car News Feb 2021

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12:16 Monday 08 Feb 2021

The coronavirus effect on the UK car manufacturing industry has been highlighted by the release of production figures for 2020.

Just 920,928 cars were built in the UK last year, a slump of almost thirty per-cent and the lowest annual total since 1984.

Shutdowns, supply chain issues, border closures, and Brexit uncertainty combined to create a perfect storm of nightmare conditions for an industry heavily reliant of exports, with more than eight-out-of-ten UK built cars destined for overseas markets.  Demand from almost all export markets fell sharply, with only China, South Korea, and Taiwan being growth export markets, albeit negligibly.

The most significant effects were felt at Ellesmere Port, where Vauxhall Astra production almost halved in 2020, while Jaguar Land Rover production at the group’s Midlands sites fell by more than a third and it was a similar story for Honda Civic output at Swindon.

The only glimmers of hope were signs of a rebound in domestic demand towards the end of the year, and the increase in the production of battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid powered vehicles.  With more certainty over trading relations with the European Union, and hope that an effective vaccine rollout will facilitate the reopening of showrooms, UK car production is forecast to rebound slightly in 2021 to around the one million unit mark, but the effects of the past twelve months on the industry will be long lasting.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said, “These figures, the worst in a generation, reflect the devastating impact of the pandemic on UK automotive production, with Covid lockdowns depressing demand, shuttering plants and threatening lives and livelihoods. The industry faces 2021 with more optimism, however, with a vaccine being rolled out and clarity on how we trade with Europe, which remains by far our biggest market.”


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