British carmakers report rising production six months in a row

British car factories have defied the global trend by reporting a sixth consecutive month of rising production.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK car manufacturing increased by 14.6 percent in February, reaching 79,907 vehicles. This positive performance extends the trend of growth seen over the past six months, marking the best start to the year since 2021.

The ongoing growth in production reflects a recovery from the significant slowdown experienced during the supply chain disruptions of the pandemic, which led to production levels dropping to their lowest since the 1950s. This achievement is noteworthy as it contrasts with the generally flat or declining production reported in other parts of the world, particularly due to weakening demand for electric vehicles, a segment that had previously shown substantial growth.

While the German car industry, which is much larger than the UK’s, has reported a 5 percent decline in production this year, China has seen a 25 percent decrease, albeit compared to strong production figures in 2023.

However, the SMMT cautioned that the UK’s recovery might face challenges in the coming months as major manufacturers phase out production of some long-standing models and transition to building new electric variants. For instance, Nissan in Sunderland, Solihull (which produces Jaguars and Range Rovers), and the Mini factory in Oxford owned by BMW are undergoing transitions towards electrification.

Nissan has announced the discontinuation of production for its electric car, the Nissan Leaf, as it shifts focus to models like the Qashqai and Juke. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is ending production of conventional petrol and diesel models this year, committing to producing only zero-emission vehicles. This transition will result in the closure of the Castle Bromwich factory as a production facility.

Additionally, some Mini production has been relocated to China or Germany ahead of the Cowley factory’s retooling to produce only electric Minis. Despite these transitions, the production of electrified cars in Britain, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure electric vehicles, has risen to over a third of the total production.

“Another month of growth for UK car production is welcome news, reflecting strong demand at home and around the world for the latest British-built cars,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the trade body.

“The UK industry faces stiff competition, however, as global competitors seek to secure new models and technologies so a commitment to our industrial competitiveness, from all political parties in this likely election year, must be maintained.”

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