UK car production in 2020 fell to the lowest level since 1984

UK car production declined by just over 29 per cent in 2020 to levels not seen since 1984, according to new figures released today by industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In total, 920,928 vehicles were produced during the year, falling from 1,303,135 units in 2019.

Production for overseas buyers fell by 29.1 per cent in the year to 749,038 units, while output for the domestic market fell by 30.4 per cent to 171,890 cars. The EU remained the UK’s biggest export destination, taking a 53.5 per cent share regardless of volumes dropping by 30.8 per cent to 400,460 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These figures, the worst in a generation, reflect the devastating impact of the pandemic on UK automotive production, with Covid lockdowns depressing demand, shuttering plants and threatening lives and livelihoods. The industry faces 2021 with more optimism, however, with a vaccine being rolled out and clarity on how we trade with Europe, which remains by far our biggest market.”

Shipments for the rest of the world fell considerably, with deliveries to the US, Japan and Australia down by 33.7, 21.6 and 21.8 per cent respectively.

That said, exports to China rose by 2.3 per cent while shipments to South Korea and Taiwan increased by 3.6 and 16.7 per cent respectively.

The SMMT said that a fall in car production of 2.3 per cent in December rounded off a ‘dreadful year’ as vehicle manufacturers continued to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis along with uncertainty for most of the year about a Brexit trade deal.

Hawes added: “The immediate challenge is to adapt to the new conditions, to overcome the additional customs burdens and regain our global competitiveness while delivering zero emission transport. We will continue to work with Government to attract investment in battery production and supply chain transformation as we transition to smart and sustainable mobility, supporting jobs and driving economic growth nationwide.”