Car production in the UK dropped by 44.4% in March, while the number produced in the first quarter of the year fell by almost 100,000 from 2021, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed.
Factories produced 76,900 cars last month, which was 38,598 less than in March 2021. The SMMT said it was the weakest March performance since the financial crisis in 2009.
In addition, the number of cars produced in Q1 of the year dropped 32.4%. Overall, the UK produced 207,347 - 99,211 fewer than Q1 of 2021.
Output for exports fell by 35%, while models for the domestic UK market dropped by 20.3%.
As well as the continued struggle against Covid-19, the drop in production was once again attributed to the continuing semiconductor shortage, rising energy costs and a decrease in production for overseas markets.
Exports to the US suffered the largest decrease, of 63.8% year on year, while exports to Europe fell by 24.5%.
The loss of Honda’s Swindon factory continues to have a significant effect on UK production, the SMMT said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also continues to affect production, leading to shortages of parts such as wiring harnesses and valuable metals for batteries.
The SMMT’s figures revealed that 72.5% of cars produced in the UK in March were destined for export, with 67% heading to the EU. Around 8.2% were shipped to the US and 6.6% to China.
“Two years after the start of the pandemic, automotive production is still suffering badly, with nearly 100,000 units lost in the first quarter,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
“Recovery hasn't yet begun, and with a backdrop of an increasingly difficult economic environment, including escalating energy costs, urgent action is needed to protect the competitiveness of UK manufacturing.
“We want the UK to be at the forefront of the transition to electrified vehicles, not just as a market but as a manufacturer, so action is urgently needed if we're to safeguard jobs and livelihoods.”