UK car production fell by -99.7% in April with just 197 units made as the coronavirus crisis forced factories to close, according to the latest figures released today (May 29) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
The figures represent the lowest level for the industry since the Second World War and revised independent outlook now expects 400,000 fewer units made in 2020 with lost production costing sector up to £12.5bn.
However, in April, instead of making cars for the UK and global export markets, many manufacturers refocused efforts on producing personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields, visors and medical gowns for use by healthcare professionals.
During the pandemic, car makers have now made some 711,495 pieces of PPE, with others helping make medical equipment, including high-tech ventilators as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘With the UK’s car plants mothballed in April, these figures aren’t surprising but they do highlight the tremendous challenge the industry faces, with revenues effectively slashed to zero last month.
‘Manufacturers are starting to emerge from prolonged shutdown into a very uncertain world and ramping up production will be a gradual process, so we need government to work with us to accelerate this fundamentally strong sector’s recovery, stimulate investment and safeguard jobs.
‘Support to get all businesses through this short-term turmoil will ensure the UK’s many globally-renowned brands can continue to make the products that remain so desirable to consumers the world over and, in turn, help deliver long-term prosperity for Britain.’
New car sales also collapsed in April, falling by 97.3%.
Just 4,321 new cars were registered in the month, compared with 156,743 in April 2019, with many of these delivered to key workers and front line public services and companies who are working during the crisis.
The decline was the steepest of modern times, and is in line with similar falls across Europe, with France -88.8% down and the Italian market falling -97.5% in April.