British automotive manufacturing fell to the bottom stage in additional than half a century throughout 2022, after a 12 months tainted by provide chain disruption and a spate of manufacturing unit closures.
The variety of automobiles produced fell 9.8 per cent to 775,014, the worst 12 months since 1956, in line with figures launched by the Society of Motor Producers and Merchants on Thursday.
Whereas the worldwide trade continues to be hamstrung by a worldwide semiconductor scarcity and sporadic elements provides from China, a number of UK plant closures throughout the previous two years depressed the numbers additional.
Honda’s Swindon facility, which produced about 100,000 fashions a 12 months, closed in 2021 whereas the Stellantis web site at Ellesmere Port ceased making the Vauxhall Astra final 12 months, with the intention to put together to make a new electric van, which can begin this 12 months.
A number of vegetation had been hit by provide chain issues throughout the 12 months, with BMW’s Mini plant affected by provide of wiring harnesses made in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. A number of vegetation had been additionally hit by elements shortages from China, the place factories needed to cease abruptly owing to Covid-19 shutdowns.
As well as, gross sales to Russia — which was within the prime 10 export markets throughout 2021 — ceased earlier within the 12 months following the invasion of Ukraine.
As carmakers have struggled to safe sufficient chips to make their automobiles, they’ve prioritised probably the most worthwhile fashions. Whereas this helped some UK factories equivalent to VW’s Bentley and BMW’s Rolls-Royce, it might have harm Toyota, which makes its bigger fashions abroad.
Manufacturing is anticipated to select up once more this 12 months, as the worldwide chip scarcity eases, and because the Ellesmere Port plant comes again on-line.
However even with automotive output predicted to extend by 15 per cent, the general quantity will nonetheless be 40 per cent decrease than earlier than the pandemic, the SMMT stated.
“We enter this 12 months with a level of optimism,” stated Mike Hawes, SMMT chief govt. “2020 was dangerous, 21 was worse and 22 was even worse. The one means is up from right here.”
UK van manufacturing, predominantly primarily based on the Stellantis-owned Luton plant, was a brilliant spot final 12 months, with a 40 per cent enhance owing to robust international demand.
Electrical and hybrid automobiles had been one other spotlight and now account for one-third of general manufacturing. Led by the electrical Mini, the Nissan Leaf and the hybrid Toyota Corolla, the numbers of those low-emission fashions rose by 40 per cent to 234,000.
The SMMT forecasts that UK vegetation is not going to attain 1mn automobiles a 12 months till at the least 2025, primarily based on unbiased projections.
The determine, which continues to be formidable given final 12 months’s numbers, is half the long run goal of 2mn automobiles that the trade harboured again in 2015, when carmaking was at report ranges.
The 12 months additionally noticed Nissan overtake Jaguar Land Rover to turn into the UK’s largest automotive producer, helped by each its electrical Leaf automotive and a pointy slide in JLR’s personal manufacturing.