UK car production off to a fast start in January

29th February 2024

UK car production got off to a fast start in January, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Volumes rose 21.0% to 82,997 units, marking the best January performance since 2021 and the fifth straight month of growth as global demand for British-built brands continued to grow and legacy supply chain challenges, notably semiconductor shortages, abated.1

The bulk of production was for export (75.8%), with overseas shipments up 11.6% to 62,938 units – a rise of 6,559. However, output for the domestic market commanded the biggest volume growth, up by an additional 7,863 units (+64.5%). The EU was the largest global market for British-built cars, taking more than half (53.2%) of exports, followed by the US (15.0%), China (10.5%), Japan (2.8%) and Australia (2.3%). Shipments to the EU, US and China all rose, by 5.0%, 81.1% and 33.2% respectively.

UK production of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) vehicles rose again by a combined 4.5% to 29,590 units to account for 35.7% of overall output. In line with overall figures, the majority of these models were exported, evidence of the importance of not only producing increasing numbers of electrified cars but of ensuring free and fair trading arrangements with markets around the world.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “A positive start to the year for UK car production bodes well for the industry and the many thousands of livelihoods on which it depends. There can be no room for complacency, however, given economic headwinds and geopolitical tensions. There must be a relentless commitment to competitiveness, building on the significant recent investments into the sector. The forthcoming Budget is a chance for Government to do just that by introducing measures to boost UK automotive manufacturing, focused on energy, investment competitiveness and market demand.”

While the scale of any impacts on UK car manufacturing arising from attacks on shipping in the Red Sea has yet to be seen, the latest independent outlook, made in November, foresees UK car and light van production rising by some 3% in 2024 to 1.04 million units.

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