A dismal year for UK car output but investment recovery and electrified charge brighten outlook
- Car production falls -6.7% to 859,575 units due to multiple factors, most Covid-related.
- UK electrified vehicle output surges, up 29.6%, to more than a quarter of production.
- Factories turn out record number of battery electric vehicles, volumes up 72.0%.
- Grounds for optimism in 2022 with potential £4.9 billion of investment announced and production forecast to begin recovery.
UK car production in 2021 fell -6.7% to only 859,575 units, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the worst total since 1956. Output was 61,353 less than 2020, which itself was badly affected by coronavirus lockdowns, and -34.0% below pre-pandemic 2019.
Despite this, British car factories produced a record number of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), turning out almost a quarter of a million (224,011) of these zero and ultra-low emission vehicles, representing more than one-in-four (26.1%) of all cars made.
The overall poor performance can be attributed to several factors, most of them direct consequences of the pandemic. The shortage of semiconductors, a critical component in modern car manufacturing, was the principal cause of the decline, with factories having to reduce or even pause production while awaiting parts whose supply has been heavily constrained by the global pandemic.
British engine production declines -10.8% in 2021
- UK engine manufacturing down -10.8% in 2021 to just over 1.6 million units.
- Production for domestic and overseas markets falls -3.6% and -15.4%, respectively.
- December output tumbles by more than a quarter to round off another tough year for sector.
CV manufacturing recovering as home delivery boom drives demand
- British commercial vehicle production rises 11.3% to 73,600 units, but remains -14.4% down on pre-pandemic five-year average.
- Increase driven by production for UK, up 27.3%, while output for overseas markets broadly stable, down -0.6%.
- More than half of all British-built CVs exported, with the majority destined for EU roads.
UK commercial vehicle (CV) production grew 11.3% in 2021, following the worst year on record (dating back to 1933), with 73,600 of the latest vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches leaving factory lines, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Britishvolt said it will develop batteries for a fully electric sports car in partnership with British carmaker Lotus, the first publicly-announced customer for the electric vehicle (EV) battery startup.
Britishvolt said the research and development that will go into developing battery cells for a high-performance sports car for Lotus will ultimately trickle down to benefit battery cells for more affordable, mainstream EVs.
Lotus, which is owned by China’s Geely (GEELY.UL) and Malaysia’s Etika Automotive, has said it hopes to sell only fully electric models by 2028.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) retail sales for the three-month period to December 31, 2021, fell by 13.6% due to the continuing computer chip shortage.
However, the group, which has manufacturing plants at Halewood in Merseyside and Solihull and Castle Bromwich in the West Midlands, said it has started to see some improvement in supplies and wholesale volumes compared with the previous quarter.
Retail sales for the quarter were 80,126 vehicles, down 13.6% (12.6k units) from the preceding quarter ending September 30, 2021, and 37.6% (48.3k units) from the quarter a year ago, ending December 31, 2020.
Retail sales were lower across all regions compared with the preceding quarter, including China (-6.9%), Europe (-6.8%), North America (-11.8%), UK (-24.3%), and Overseas (-25.4%).