UK car production rising thanks to export boom

10 mins

British car manufacturing saw its third consecutive month of growth with a 9.9% rise in Apri...

British car manufacturing saw its third consecutive month of growth with a 9.9% rise in April, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 66,527 new cars were produced, a rise of 5,973 over April last year as the semiconductor shortage and other global supply chain shortages continue to improve.

This increase was largely driven by a boom in exports, with 54,820 units exported. Exports rose by 14.7% in April, their third double-digit rise in a row, and made up a massive 82.4% of UK car production.

Britain’s biggest customer remains the EU, which snapped up 54.8% of exports, a rise of 12.2%, followed by the US (up 36.2%), China (down 3.6%), and Australia (up by a startling 226.8% after the Australian government gave importers an extra year to get to grips with new compliance regulations).

International buyers favoured new British models, many with zero-emission or hybrid technology, as the UK continued to produce increasing numbers of battery electric, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid vehicles. All three together represented 37.7% of UK vehicle production, up by 56.2% in April. So far, UK factories have turned out 113,315 of these vital green vehicles in 2023, demonstrating the nation’s increasing capacity to produce the new generation of eco-friendly cars.

However, a challenge is looming for both UK and EU auto manufacturers. 1 January 2024 will see tougher rules of origin–which govern local content for batteries and electric vehicles–set out in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

Both British and European manufacturers are likely to struggle with this change, which may lead to electric vehicles in particular being hit by punitive tariffs. Automakers on both sides of the channel are coming together to demand a practical solution and allow the sector more time to build local supply chains to drive the transition to zero-emissions vehicles.

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