Automotive News – Late March 2021

UK car production fell -14.0% in February, with 105,008 units leaving factory gates, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 17,163 fewer cars were made, representing an 18th consecutive month of decline and the weakest February performance in more than a decade as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, in particular shuttered UK showrooms, new customs processes and global supply chain constraints continued to influence output.

Production for the domestic market fell -34.9%, a loss of 9,480 units, compared with a less severe -8.1% fall in exports, down 7,683 units. Overseas orders still accounted for by far the majority (83.2%) of all cars made in the month, with most of these (53.9%) heading into the EU, demonstrating once again the importance of harmonious trading relationships with the sector’s largest and closest market. February shipments to the US and Asia combined amounted to 30.9% of all UK car exports.

UK commercial vehicle (CV) production declined -45.4% in February, with 4,308 units built, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). CV manufacturing entered its fifth consecutive month of decline as supply chain shortages, new customs processes and prolonged lockdown measures across the globe affected output, resulting in the worst February on record.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled a new £3 billion investment in what he calls the ‘green bus revolution’.

Under the new plans, nearly 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen buses will be delivered to provide zero-emission and quiet travel across the UK.

The plan is also to end sales of new diesel buses and for that reason, a consultation on the end date has been launched.

The changes announced include simpler bus fares with daily price caps to allow people to take buses as many times as they need without facing mounting costs.

Innovative green projects creating the next generation of electric trucks and hydrogen-powered buses are set to secure nearly 10,000 UK jobs and save millions of tonnes of carbon emissions, thanks to over £54 million funding announced on the 22nd  March by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The 3 projects in Cwmbran, Warwickshire and Ballymena will receive more than £54 million of funding from UK government and industry and are forecast to secure nearly 10,000 jobs across the UK. They could also save 45 million tonnes of carbon emissions, equal to the total amount of emissions produced by 1.8 million cars over their lifetimes.

Plans by Toyota to reduce energy consumption and cut carbon emissions at its Deeside plant are to be supported by the Welsh Government, with an award of £375,000 from its Economic Futures Fund.

The £1.6m investment in more efficient high-temperature aluminium casting furnaces, used in the production of hybrid engines at the site, will reduce metal losses in the manufacturing process and deliver significant energy savings and reduced carbon emissions.

Ford has announced that diesel engines for a new generation of its Transit Custom van will be built at its factory in Dagenham.  The company says the move will help to safeguard jobs at the site, which currently employs 1,900 people.

The engines will be exported to Turkey, where the vans themselves will be assembled by Ford’s local joint venture company, Ford Otosan.

Last year, Ford closed its other major UK engine plant at Bridgend in Wales.

The Transit Custom is a medium-sized version of Ford’s well-known commercial workhorse. The company plans to launch a new version of it in 2023.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called for greater support for private retail uptake of electric vehicles, following new figures showing businesses are twice as likely as consumers to make the switch from petrol or diesel.

SMMT analysis of new car registrations in 2020 show that just 4.6% of privately bought cars were battery electric vehicles (BEVs) – compared to 8.7% for businesses and large fleets. In total, consumers registered 34,324 BEVs in 2020, compared to 73,881 corporate registrations.

In response, SMMT has unveiled a blueprint to deliver greater retail uptake – calling for government and stakeholders to prioritise overcoming retail consumer concerns through fairer incentives and a commitment to a dramatically expanded public charging infrastructure. The call comes as SMMT gathers industry and government stakeholders at its first ever conference dedicated to electrification.

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