Slow August ends UK car production growth

stellantis ellesmere port paintshop 2 1

A total of 45,052 cars left production lines in the UK last month

Overall production fell by 9.7% year on year, although electrified vehicle production grew for a 14th straight month

Car production in the UK fell in August, ending six months of continued year-on-year growth, with the blame aimed at the annual summer shutdowns and planned factory upgrades.

Last month, 45,052 cars left production lines – down 31,399 on July – in what is widely regarded as the quietest month of the year.

Compared with last August, 4849 fewer cars (-9.7%) were produced, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal.

Over the summer, Stellantis’s Ellesmere Port was one of those factories gearing up for the production of next-generation vehicles; it reopened last month following a £100 million refit to enable the production of electric vans for the Citroën, Fiat, Opel, Peugeot and Vauxhall brands.

It wasn’t all gloom in August. Electrified vehicle manufacturing – which includes electric cars and all types of hybrids – grew for the 14th straight month (up 2.8% year on year), representing 36% of all cars that were produced in August.

The biggest hit to the overall figure came from production of cars for the domestic market, this falling by 25.2% year on year to 8010.

Export numbers – which equated for 82.2% of the month’s total output – also dipped, by 5.5% to 37,042.

SMMT Car output rolling total

Before August, the UK industry had recorded six months of year-on-year growth, producing 69,707 cars in February, 81,605 in March, 66,527 in April, 76,046 in May, 84,767 in June and 76,451 in July.

In total, 571,671 cars have been produced here in 2023, up 11.8% on the same point last year. This is largely thanks to a bumper first half, when 450,168 cars were produced.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the August decline isn’t a cause for concern.

“With car manufacturers taking advantage of the summer holiday season to upgrade their plants, this is part of an ongoing commitment to deliver the next generation of electric vehicles, with a record number of these models already being made,” he added.

Nissan Leaf production Sunderland UK

Hawes used the rise in electrified vehicle production to call on the UK and EU to finalise an agreement on rules of origin, a strict set of fineable manufacturing rules that are due to come into force from 1 January 2024.

He said: “To secure future investment, we need business certainty, not least a UK-EU agreement to delay tougher rules of origin that would damage the competitiveness of electric vehicles in both the European and British markets and concrete details from the UK government on the regulation compelling the sale of EVs in Britain.

“Both are due to commence in less than 100 days and are essential to business planning and investment for 2024 and beyond.”

Source: Autocar

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