Currently reading: UK new car output down 20.8% in July as recovery continues
Latest SMMT figures mark an improvement over recent months but ongoing uncertainty is 'stifling' demand

UK new car production dropped 20.8% year on year last month, as the sector continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Although the 85,696 units produced in July fell short of the 108,239 built in the same period last year, the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggest that the sector is continuing on the road to recovery after the coronavirus-induced general shutdown. The 20.8% July fall follows year-on-year drops of 94.5% in May and 42.8% in June. 

Factories and dealerships have mostly reopened, but the SMMT said social-distancing measures and general economic uncertainty have “stifled output”. 

Production for the UK market remains particularly hard hit, with just 13,434 units produced – down 37.1% on July 2019. Exports – down 16.8% – accounted for more than 80% of all new cars built, totalling 72,262 units. 

The latest figures mean overall new car production is down 39.7% for the year to date, a slight recovery over June, when the shortfall was measured at 42.1%. The SMMT estimates that 307,707 new cars have been lost as a result of the pandemic.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ““As key global markets continue to reopen and UK car plants gradually get back to business, these figures are a marked improvement on the previous three months, but the outlook remains deeply uncertain. 

“With the sector now battling economic recession as well as a global pandemic, it has neither the time nor capacity to deal with the further shock of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

“The impact of tariffs on the sector and the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods it supports would be devastating, so we need negotiators on both sides to pull out all of the stops to ensure a comprehensive free-trade deal is agreed and in place before the end of 2020.”

Read more

UK new car registrations rise for the first time in 2020

SMMT boss: 11,000 UK automotive job losses “the tip of the iceberg​"

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Peter Cavellini 27 August 2020

The customer.

 On my recent experience of a dealership (BMW) it is not the staff not trying at all times to observe social distancing it is the customer, as I sat waiting for my car I watched customers of all ages just walking around as if it was a normal day, not following the indicated way in or out, children just walking anywhere, looking in cars, trying to open car doors, so, I'm not surprised people aren't buying just now, this is just one reason there not, but, at least there's improvement and I hope it continues.