Pingdemic pushes UK car production to new low

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July’s car manufacturing output fell for the first time since February with semiconductor shortages and ‘pingdemic’ staff shortages taking their toll on the automotive industry.

car production
Image: Nissan

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a drop in output of 37.6 per cent in July with 53,438 units made. SMMT said this is the worst July performance since 1956.

In July production for the UK market declined 38.7 per cent to 8,233 while manufacturing for export also fell, down -37.4 per cent with 45,205 cars shipped overseas.

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More than a quarter of all cars made in July were either battery electric (BEV), plug in hybrid (PHEV) or hybrid electric (HEV), their highest share on record. So far, 126,757 of these alternatively fuelled vehicles have been produced this year.

Production overall remains up 18.3 per cent on Covid hit 2020 at 552,361 units, but this is down significantly (28.7 per cent) on 2019 pre-pandemic levels when 774,760 cars were produced.

Image: SMMT

These figures lay bare the extremely tough conditions UK car manufacturers continue to face,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.While the impact of the ‘pingdemic’ will lessen as self-isolation rules change, the worldwide shortage of semiconductors shows little sign of abating.”

He continued: “The UK automotive industry is doing what it can to keep production lines going, testament to the adaptability of its workforce and manufacturing processes, but government can help by continuing the supportive Covid measures currently in place and boosting our competitiveness with a reduction in energy levies and business rates for a sector that is strategically important in delivering net zero.”

On July 27, 2021, the Unite union urged government to exempt major manufacturing including automotive from the requirement for workers who continuously test negative to isolate if `pinged' by the test and trace app.