Car production in Britain last year hit the highest level since 2019, or before the Covid pandemic, an industry body said Thursday as it warned of bumps in the road.
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Output by the country’s mainly foreign-owned car producers, including Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover, reached just over 905,000 units in 2023, up nearly 17 percent from a year earlier, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.
“The easing of pandemic-related challenges, from chip shortages to lockdowns, and increasing electrified model production, combined to drive annual output,” it added.
SMMT, which reported record-high production of electric models last year, warned that “headwinds remain, most immediately with attacks on shipping in the Red Sea raising the spectre of delays and cost pressures”.
The bulk of vehicles made in the UK are for export, with the European Union by far the biggest market as London and Brussels overcome obstacles surrounding post-Brexit tariff rules.
“We are in a much better position than a year ago, but the challenges are unrelenting,” SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said in the statement.
“With global competition as fierce as it has ever been and amid escalating geopolitical tensions, both (the UK) government and industry must remain singularly focused on competitiveness, with all the jobs and growth this will bring,” he added.
Car production in the UK in 2022 stood at roughly 775,000 units — the worst level since 1956. It came in at 1.3 million vehicles in 2019.
Hawes told a press briefing ahead of the release that “the UK to a certain extent is playing catch up with other markets”.
He said post-Brexit negotiations coupled with recent economic and political instability meant it “has been very difficult to attract investment into the UK”.
Returning to pre-pandemic output levels is “very, very difficult unless you add new entrants”, Hawes predicted.
The SMMT forecasts UK car output to rise slightly this year, when a general election is expected.
Other notable brands built in the UK are the Mini and Rolls-Royce, both owned by German car giant BMW.
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