UK car manufacturing fell 37.6% in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the industry.
UK car manufacturing fell 37.6% in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the industry.

UK car manufacturing fell 37.6% in March, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting the industry. While output for the domestic market declined 36.8%, exports fell 37.8%. While shipments to China rose 2.3% as lockdown measures began to ease, overall output for the sector rounded off Q1 down 13.8%.

According to the SMMT, the crisis could result in a loss of around 257,000 units in 2020 across the UK if factories stay closed to the middle of May, an estimated cost to industry of around £8.2 billion. 

‘UK automotive is fundamentally strong but, as these figures show, it is being tested like never before, with each week of shutdown costing the sector and economy billions,’ said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. ‘Government’s emergency measures are helping keep many companies afloat and thousands of people in jobs, but liquidity remains a major concern and will become even more stretched as the industry begins to restart.

‘To get production lines rolling, we need a package of measures that supports the entire industry. We need coordination and collaboration with government, the workforce and wider stakeholders to unlock the sector in a safe and sustainable way.’

In a recent survey conducted by the SMMT, 57.0% of automotive businesses responding to the survey said they plan to resume operations by mid-May but there are some key challenges that need to be overcome. Two thirds (66.7%) highlighted UK market readiness as a pre-requisite, while almost half (48.9%) called for more flexibility in the country’s coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) to allow for short-term working during production ramp-up, and 56% flagged liquidity.

This story uses material from the SMMT, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.