The UK’s ongoing shift to electrified car production was evident in January 2023, with combined battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicle volumes up 49.9% to 28,329 units, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
These vehicles represented more than four in every 10 (41.3%) cars made in January, a near-record monthly share, and further evidence of the UK’s capability in making these important models, most of which (77.0%) are exported to meet global demand (December BEV, PHEV and HEV production share 47.2%).
Production for the UK rose 5.6% to 12,196 units, while exports declined by -1.5%, largely due to the suspension of shipments to Russia, which accounted for 83.6% of the loss. In total, some 56,379 cars – more than eight in 10 of all those produced – were destined for overseas markets, with over half of these (56.6%) for the EU, with next most important global destinations the US (9.3%), China (8.8%), Japan (4.4%) and Australia (3.3%).
Meanwhile, UK car production was stable in the first month of 2023, with output down just -0.3% to 68,575 units.
The loss, equivalent to just 215 fewer cars, was driven chiefly by structural changes, reflecting a move from car to van making at one major plant, but with supply chain shortages still afflicting some manufacturers.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Automotive manufacturing can drive long-term growth for the low carbon economy but the sector needs competitive conditions to attract investment. Recent global developments, however, suggest increasing protectionism which, if not challenged or mitigated, could put the UK at a disadvantage.
“To deliver a wholesale industrial transformation we need a competitive framework and a pitch that promotes advanced vehicle manufacturing internationally. We now look to the forthcoming Budget for the necessary measures that will enable the automotive sector to deliver its undoubted potential.”
The latest independent outlook anticipates UK car output rising by 9% to 842,200 cars this year, driven by growth in electrified vehicle production. By 2025 car and light van production volumes will likely surpass one million vehicles.
(Based on auto analysis production outlook from November 2022, targeting production output of 983,610 cars and vans in 2023, 971,465 in 2024 and 1,040,700 in 2025)