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Impact of semiconductor shortages revealed in new car production data

UK car production rose dramatically in May, but recovery remains hampered due to ongoing Covid-related issues.

A total of 54,962 cars leave factory gates in May, up on 2020 in the pandemic but still down 52.6% on 2019

A total of 54,962 cars were produced in the UK in May – up nearly tenfold on the 5,314 units a year ago when coronavirus halted manufacturing.

But performance is still far below pre-pandemic levels, down 52.6% on the same month in 2019.

It’s a similar picture for the year to date. UK factories turned out 429,826 cars for the first five months of the year; up some 105,063 units on last year but down 22.9% on the same five-month period in 2019.

The figures were released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which says they reflect the scale of the challenge facing the industry as it seeks to recover from the pandemic while grappling with global supply shortages, notably of semiconductors.

When compared with a five-year average, production was down 58.0% for the month and 36.3% for the January-May period.

More positively, alternatively fuelled vehicles account for more than one in five cars built in 2021, although only one in 16 are battery electric vehicles.

The SMMT added that this further highlights the scale of transformation ahead in the road to 2030 and the need for action, including on charging as well as R&D, to “ensure we can deliver the net zero [that] future society demands”.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.