UK Car Production Grows Over 6% On Export Demand

UK car production rose in March as demand from foreign markets offset the fall at home and easing supply shortages of auto components such as semiconductor chips meant output grew in the first quarter amid the sustained surge in the popularity for battery electric vehicles, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, or SMMT, showed Friday.

Car production rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to 81,605 units in March, driven by a 10.4 percent surge in exports. Output for the home market declined 5.1 percent.

Exports claimed 75.4 percent of total production and home market grabbed 24.6 percent.

Production of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, or EVS, jumped 75.0 percent year-on-year in March.

“A second consecutive month of growth for UK car production gives cause for optimism, though volumes are still well below pre-pandemic levels,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

In the first quarter, car production grew 6.0 percent to 219,887 units as global supply constraints began to ease, the trade body said.

The number of units produced grew by 12,540 from the same quarter last year.

Quarterly production was led by exports which increased 6.6 percent and represented almost eight in 10 cars made, the SMMT said.

In March, the largest share of exported cars, 63.6 percent or 39,172 units went to the EU. Shipments to the bloc grew 4.9 percent from a year ago.

Exports to the next biggest markets, the US and China fell 4.1 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.

Four in 10 cars built in the month featured the ultra-low or zero emission powertrain technology and this trend is set to continue as new products come on stream, with more than 20 models of electric cars, vans, buses, trucks and taxis expected to be in production in the UK by 2025, the SMMT said.

“If British car manufacturing is to get back towards those levels, with all the economic benefits that brings, we need to match the best in global competitiveness,” Hawes said.

“That means driving down the high cost of UK energy, reforming business rates and vigorously promoting Britain globally to secure the investments essential to a zero carbon automotive future.”

SMMT also reported that commercial vehicle production declined for a second month in a row in March, down 3.0 percent year-on-year to 9,822 units of vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches combined, as the temporary supply shortages continued. The declines came after robust growth in January.

Output for both foreign and domestic markets declined in March.

That said, commercial vehicle manufacturing grew 1.1 percent in the year-to-date period, boosted by the strong January and export demand mainly from the EU.

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