UK car production fell a dramatic 99.7% year on year in April as a result of lockdown, which meant all vehicle manufacturing plants were closed throughout the month.
Only 197 cars were made in April, all of which were premium, luxury and sports cars that had already been assembled, with only finishing touches required. Of those, 152 were built for export.
The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that for the year to date, production has decreased 27.6%, with 121,811 fewer cars built, making a total of 319,449 units. It follows March’s production fall of 37.6%.
The revised outlook now predicts less than one million cars will be produced in the UK this year – 400,000 fewer than was forecast in January – with the lost production costing the sector up to £12.5 billion. If production were to drop below one million, it would represent lower volumes than in 2009.
Production volume in May is expected to be fractionally better, with around half of the UK’s car and engine plants set to be operating by the end of the month. However, scaling up production while accommodating new social-distancing measures will make volumes far lower than they were pre-lockdown.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With the UK’s car plants mothballed in April, these figures aren’t surprising but they do highlight the tremendous challenge the industry faces, with revenues effectively slashed to zero last month.
“Manufacturers are starting to emerge from prolonged shutdown into a very uncertain world and ramping up production will be a gradual process, so we need government to work with us to accelerate this fundamentally strong sector’s recovery, stimulate investment and safeguard jobs.
“Support to get all businesses through this short-term turmoil will ensure the UK’s many globally renowned brands can continue to make the products that remain so desirable to consumers the world over and, in turn, help deliver long-term prosperity for Britain.”
While almost no vehicles were built in April, car makers instead turned out more than 700,000 pieces of PPE, including face shields, visors and gowns, to support the UK’s healthcare workers.