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UK car manufacturing falls in August as factories gear up for next gen models

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UK car production fell -9.7% in August, following six consecutive months of growth, as 45,052 models rolled off factory lines, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Typically the smallest volume month of the year with often variable summer shutdowns which can lead to large percentage variations, August’s output was in part affected by extended production pauses at some plants for planned maintenance and upgrades as car makers gear up to produce the next generation of electric vehicles.

Production for the domestic market declined by more than a quarter (-25.2%), while output for export fell by a less pronounced -5.5%, equivalent to 2,150 units. The decrease was driven largely by a decline in shipments to the US, China and Japan, down -58.6%, -24.5% and -37.8% respectively. The EU, meanwhile, remained the UK’s biggest global market with almost six in 10 exports heading for the bloc (57.9%) – representing an 11.5 percentage point uplift in shipments from last year after volumes rose 17.8%.

In the year to date, overall production continues its double digit gains, rising 11.8% to 571,671 units. Both home and export volumes are up in the first eight months of the year, by 2.5% and 14.4% respectively.

Manufacturing of the latest and greenest vehicles continued to prove a bright spot, with a 14th consecutive monthly gain. August showed combined volumes of electrified vehicles rose, albeit modestly, by 2.8% to represent nearly two in five (36.6%) of all cars made, equivalent to 16,511 units. Since January, car makers have turned out 216,922 of these crucial vehicles, an uplift of 84,310 on the previous year, evidence of the UK’s capability to be a leader in zero emission production.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “After six straight months of growth, a decline in UK car output in what is always the smallest and most variable volume month is not a cause for concern. With car manufacturers taking advantage of the summer holiday season to upgrade their plants, this is part of an ongoing commitment to deliver the next generation of electric vehicles, with a record number of these models already being made.

"To secure future investment, however, we need business certainty, not least a UK-EU agreement to delay tougher rules of origin that would damage the competitiveness of electric vehicles in both the European and British markets and concrete details from the UK government on the regulation compelling the sale of EVs in Britain. Both are due to commence in less than 100 days and are essential to business planning and investment for 2024 and beyond.”