UK car production down 37.6% in March due to coronavirus


UK car production fell 37.6 per cent in March, with 47,428 fewer cars rolling off production lines as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

Due to the ongoing crisis, car factories across the UK were shut down last month and have yet to reopen, resulting in more than 140 days’ worth of lost production in total and only 78,767 being manufactured in the whole of March.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show output for the domestic market declined 36.8 per cent, while export demand was down 37.8 per cent.

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Exports to the US and EU were down 39.3 per cent and 37.7 per cent respectively, although shipments to China rose 2.3 per cent. However, overall car production for the UK was still down 13.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, from 370,289 units to 319,252.

It’s currently predicted that factory shutdowns caused by coronavirus could result in a loss of 257,000 cars from UK plants this year, providing the factories reopen in mid-May. If this proves to be the case, it will cost the industry £8.2 billion – around 20 per cent of its annual turnover.

According to SMMT members, 50.5 per cent of automotive manufacturers have seen their turnovers fall by at least 50 per cent as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, commented: “[The] UK automotive [sector] is fundamentally strong, but – as these figures show – it is being tested like never before, with each week of shutdown costing the sector and economy billions.

“[The] Government’s emergency measures are helping keep many companies afloat and thousands of people in jobs, but liquidity remains a major concern and will become even more stretched as the industry begins to restart.

“To get production lines rolling, we need a package of measures that supports the entire industry. We need coordination and collaboration with [the] Government, the workforce and wider stakeholders to unlock the sector in a safe and sustainable way.

“This will include new workplace guidance, additional measures to ease cash-flow and help furloughed colleagues back to work, as well as demand-side measures to help encourage customers back into the market.

“This should be seen as long-term investment into the underlying competitiveness of an industry critical to the health of the economy and the livelihoods of thousands of households right across the UK.”

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