Thursday 29 April 2021 12:01 am

Car production rise for first time since 2019 after Covid collapse

UK car production rose dramatically in March, a year after the coronavirus pandemic forced factories across the country to shut.

Output rose 46.6 per cent against 12 months ago, with a total of 115,498 cars built, up from 78,767 in March 2020, new data from auto trade body the SMMT showed.

Read more: Driverless cars set for UK roads by the end of the year

However, the figure is still below the five-year average for the same month, while in 2019 production numbered 125,915.

Source: SMMT

For the first quarter of 2021, production is down 4.0 per cent overall, with a total of 306,558 cars made.

Despite the caveats, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said that the first production increase since August 2019 was a “step in the right direction”.

“With factories shut for much of March 2020, output was always going to be up but it remains below average, with some £11bn worth of production lost over the past year”, he added.

Before the Open: Get the jump on the markets with our early morning newsletter

“Whilst the Covid situation is improving in the UK and in some major export markets, manufacturers are still struggling to manage residual issues, most notably the global semiconductor shortage.”

Most recently, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan have both said they will have to idle some production while the chip shortage continues.

Source: SMMT

One in five of the new cars built in March was either a battery electric or hybrid vehicle, models which require almost three times as many chips.

Read more: What’s causing the current global shortage of semiconductor chips?

Hawes warned that the cost of building models using this new tech, as well as managing new barriers to export, could be dangerous for manufacturers.

“A competitive business environment that helps reduce operating costs and policies that support manufacturing will be essential if the transition to zero is to be Made in the UK,” he said.