Car production slumps to lowest level since 1954

The number of cars built in the UK over the past six months has slumped to the lowest since 1954.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a total of 381,357 cars were made in the six months to June, down 42% on the period last year.

The trade body estimated that 11,349 jobs were lost in the past six months.

Car production fell by 48% in June compared to the same month a year ago, with 56,594 units made.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “These figures are yet more grim reading for the industry and its workforce, and reveal the difficulties all automotive businesses face as they try to restart while tackling sectoral challenges like no other. Recovery is difficult for all companies, but automotive is unique in facing immense technological shifts, business uncertainty and a fundamental change to trading conditions while dealing with coronavirus.

“The critical importance of an EU-UK FTA is self-evident for UK Automotive. Our factories were once set to make two million cars in 2020 but could now produce less than half that number, a result of the devastating effects of the pandemic on top of already challenging market conditions and years of Brexit uncertainty. This industry has demonstrated its inherent competitiveness and global excellence over the past decade. Its long-term future now depends on securing a good deal and a long-term strategy that supports an industry on which so many thousands of jobs across the country depend.”

The latest independent production outlook commissioned by SMMT, also released today, now expects just over 880,000 cars to be produced in the UK this year – some -32% lower than made in 2019 and -30% less than anticipated in January pre-crisis.

If realised, this would be the lowest total since 1957.