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UK car production up 13% as semiconductor shortage eases

Professional Engineering

Factories produced an additional 8,050 cars compared to the same month last year, according to the SMMT (Credit: Shutterstock)
Factories produced an additional 8,050 cars compared to the same month last year, according to the SMMT (Credit: Shutterstock)

UK car production rose 13.1% in February, new figures have shown, thanks in part to an easing of part shortages that have plagued the global industry since early 2021.

Factories produced an additional 8,050 cars compared to the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), reaching a total of 69,707. Volumes were buoyed by increasing availability of components, particularly semiconductors, the organisation said.

The transition to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) continued, with combined volumes surging 72.2% to a total of 27,392, accounting for two-in-five (39.3%) cars.

“Ramping up output of these vehicles still further is crucial,” the SMMT announcement said. A new survey of the organisation’s members found nine in 10 firms want measures to deliver low-carbon and cost-effective energy supply to help support the transition to zero-emission technologies.

Overall, production for both home and overseas markets rose by double digits, up 20.3% and 11.5% respectively. 56,634 cars were produced to fulfil global orders, up from 50,786 a year before and accounting for 81.2% of output, with most of those exports (59.6%) heading to the UK’s largest trading partner, the EU. 

Automotive businesses are “broadly optimistic” about the next 12 months, the SMMT said, but more than eight in 10 report that input and employment costs have risen in the past three months, so “action to alleviate cripplingly high and uncompetitive energy costs ranks as their number one concern”. Support on business rates, easing supply shortages and access to trade were also all viewed as beneficial for growth.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “February’s growth in UK car production signposts an industry on the road to recovery. The fundamentals of the sector are strong – a highly skilled workforce, engineering excellence, a sector that is embracing new electrified vehicle manufacturing and wide-ranging capabilities in the EV supply chain.

“To take advantage of global opportunities, however, we must scale up at pace and make the UK the most attractive destination for automotive investment by addressing trading and fiscal costs and delivering low-carbon, affordable energy.”

The SMMT’s recent Race to Zero: Powering Up Britain’s EV Supply Chain report aimed to set out a blueprint for how the UK can boost EV manufacturing in the face of fierce global competition. The included UK EV Supply Chain Directory illustrated how, from batteries, powertrains, fuel cells and power electronics to anodes, rare earth magnets, graphene and silicon carbide wafers, the UK already produces almost every component needed to make electric vehicles.

“The challenge now is to scale up this capability, harness the UK’s strengths in advanced automotive manufacturing, low-carbon energy and R&D, and deliver growth for the sector,” the SMMT announcement said.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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