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UK car production slumps 41% in February

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
UK car Bentley cars go through final quality control as they come off the production line at their factory in Crewe, Britain January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Car production in the UK fell for the eighth month in a row in February. Photo: Reuters

Fewer cars rolled off the assembly lines in the UK as the ongoing global chip shortage pushed production down by 41% in February.

About 61,657 cars were built in the UK last month, down from 105,008 in February 2021, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It is the lowest production number for the time of year since 2009.

Read more: Electric cars gain market share but chip shortage cuts UK auto sales by 25%

"The sector entered 2022 hopeful for recovery, but that recovery has not yet begun, and urgent action is now needed to help mitigate spiralling energy costs and ensure the sector remains globally competitive," SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said.

The drop in production was again attributed to the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors, as well as the permanent shutdown of Honda’s Swindon plant last summer. Prior to the pandemic, Honda accounted for 10% of the UK's car production.

The impact of the shortages is expected to reduce later this year but continue to have some effect even into 2023.

Exports accounted for more than eight in 10 cars made, with the majority of shipments (62.4%) heading into the EU, equivalent to 31,673 units.

The US, in comparison, took 11% of exports, and China 8.7%.

A quarter of cars produced in February were either hybrid or electric vehicles, totalling 15,905 units.

Read more: UK car production plummets to 13-year low in January

The SMMT said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to pose additional challenges for the UK automotive industry, despite the two countries taking only 1.1% and 0.5% respectively of UK production last year.

Critical raw materials, parts, and components, including aluminium, palladium and nickel, which is used in battery manufacturing, and wiring harnesses, are sourced from the region and the conflict is sending the cost of raw materials soaring.

The SMMT said the sanctions imposed will raise additional challenges to the sector in the medium to long-term.

Watch: UK car production hits 65-year low as chip shortages pile pressure on COVID-battered sector

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