Electric car pivots trigger a drop in UK auto production

The British car industry saw its production fall by over a quarter in the last month, as production lines were retooled for electric vehicles.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) figures, the number of vehicles built has fallen to 59 467. This is a 27pc drop compared to a previous year.

The SMMT stated that the drop was expected, as the manufacturers were adjusting their factories for the next generation of vehicles including electric cars.

The early 2024 Easter holiday played a role, as did the fact that there were fewer days of work in March this year than the previous year, according to the industry group.

The data revealed that the combined production of battery electric, hybrid and plug-in cars in March was more than a quarter.

In the first quarter of 2024, there were 222,371 vehicles produced. This represents a 1.1pc increase compared to the previous year.

Nearly three-quarters were exported.

Mike Hawes is the chief executive of SMMT. He said that this fall was not surprising given the changes occurring in UK car factories, as models are being phased out and new plants begin to produce electric vehicles.

We can expect more volatility in 2024, as manufacturers build the foundations of a zero-emission future.

Recent investment announcements have increased confidence and improved the UK’s image, but there must be a steadfast commitment to competitiveness.

“Free and fair deals must be ensured, energy costs must be reduced and workers’ skills improved if we want to attract more investment for improving productivity and decarbonising automotive manufacturing and supply chain.”

The SMMT predicts that car and light van output will fall 6.2pc to 940,000 units this year, before returning back to growth in 2025.

As more EVs are produced in the UK, the output is expected to reach 1.2m by the end of this decade.