UK Car Production Dips in August Amid Planned Upgrades for Electric Vehicles

by Anna

September 28, 2023

The latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal a 9.7% decline in UK car production for the month of August, following a string of six consecutive months of growth. In total, 45,052 vehicles rolled off the assembly lines during this period.


August traditionally represents the smallest volume month of the year, often characterized by variable summer shutdowns, leading to significant percentage fluctuations. This year, the production landscape was further impacted by extended pauses at certain manufacturing plants for planned maintenance and upgrades, as car manufacturers gear up to produce the next generation of electric vehicles.


Production destined for the domestic market experienced a substantial drop, with a decline of more than a quarter (-25.2%). Meanwhile, output for export markets saw a less pronounced dip of -5.5%, equivalent to 2,150 units. The reduction in exports was primarily driven by decreased shipments to key markets, including the United States (-58.6%), China (-24.5%), and Japan (-37.8%). In contrast, the European Union remained the UK’s largest global market, accounting for nearly six in ten exports (57.9%). This marked an 11.5 percentage point increase in shipments compared to the previous year, following a robust 17.8% rise in export volumes.


Looking at the year-to-date figures, overall production maintained strong double-digit gains, rising by 11.8% to reach a total of 571,671 units. Both domestic and export volumes showed growth in the first eight months of the year, increasing by 2.5% and 14.4%, respectively.


Notably, the manufacturing of environmentally friendly vehicles continued to shine, posting its 14th consecutive monthly gain. In August, combined volumes of electrified vehicles rose by 2.8%, constituting nearly two in five (36.6%) of all cars produced, totaling 16,511 units. Since the beginning of the year, car manufacturers have produced 216,922 of these crucial vehicles, marking an increase of 84,310 units compared to the previous year. This underscores the UK’s capability to lead in zero-emission vehicle production.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of SMMT, commented on the situation, stating, “After six straight months of growth, a decline in UK car output in what is always the smallest and most variable volume month is not 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.”

Hawes emphasized the need for business certainty to secure future investment, including a UK-EU agreement to delay tougher rules of origin and concrete details from the UK government on regulations compelling the sale of electric vehicles in Britain. Both measures are set to commence in less than 100 days and are deemed essential for business planning and investment for the years ahead, particularly in 2024 and beyond.

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