UK car production slumps despite rising demand for electric vehicles
Though overall output fell 9.8 percent last year, production of battery electric vehicles and hybrids saw record highs
Car production in the UK declined by almost 10 percent in 2022, the lowest it has been in 66 years.
That's according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which recorded a total of 775,014 units rolling off production lines last year.
The influential trade association says the decline was particularly pronounced in the first half of the year, with output down 17.9 percent in December alone.
The annual total was 84,561 units lower than in 2021 and 40.5 percent lower than the 1,303,135 cars produced in pre-pandemic 2019.
The SMMT cites the main reasons for the decline in production being the global shortage of semiconductor chips - an issue which has plagued the industry as a whole for several years now, since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
This has limited manufacturers’ ability to build cars in line with demand, and led to significant structural changes, including a loss of production at two major manufacturing sites. Additionally, supply chain disruptions in China due to Covid-19 lockdowns also contributed to the decline.
Despite these challenges however, UK factories managed to produce a record number of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) electric vehicles, with combined volumes up 4.5 percent year-on-year.
According to the SMMT, this represented 30.2 percent of all car production. Total BEV production rose 4.8 percent, while hybrid volumes increased by 4.3 percent.
The figures come following recent SMMT analysis which confirms the increasingly important role of electric vehicle production to the UK economy, especially the value of exports.
Since 2017, the value of BEV, PHEV and HEV exports has risen seven-fold, from £1.3 billion to more than £10 billion.
As a result, electric vehicles now represent 44.7 percent of the value of all UK car exports - up from a mere 4.1 percent from five years ago.
BEVs were seen to have gained the biggest growth in their export value, from £81.7 million to £1.3 billion - a staggering 1,500 percent increase.
Amid the many challenges facing the global auto industry, the SMMT also credited the UK’s specialist, luxury and performance carmakers being its particular strength, as output from these brands climbed 6.6 percent to 32,575 units. The SMMT says this equated to an estimated total of £3.7 billion.