UK car production collapses to lowest for 66 years

The number of new cars made in the UK has sunk to its lowest level for 66 years as firms warn the country is not doing enough to attract manufacturers.

The 10% drop is the worst performance since 1956, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

A struggle to get parts due to Covid and a semiconductor shortage have hit the industry worldwide, but the UK has also been hit by factory closures.

Car firms warn the UK has not got a strategy to attract manufacturers.

In response, the government said it was “determined” to ensure the country remains a top global location for car manufacturing.

In total, the UK produced 775,014 cars last year, down from 1.3 million before the pandemic, with production having fallen every year since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Manufacturers hope the car industry will start to accelerate again, but say getting to pre-pandemic levels would require major investment and new car makers to come to the UK.

They warn that the UK is lagging behind, particularly on offering state aid to manufacturers.

In the US, the government is planning to offer billions in subsidies to car makers who create electric vehicle supply chains in America.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of industry body the SMMT, warns this will “hoover up” a lot of international investment, hitting the UK industry further.

The European Union is considering retaliating by either relaxing state aid rules or by extending Covid recovery or green technology-boosting programmes.

One of the benefits of Brexit was meant to be escaping from the straitjacket of EU state aid rules which limited the amount of support governments could give to favoured industries.

Mr Hawes conceded the UK could be in the unenviable position of offering less support to crucial industries than before it left the EU.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, he said the UK needed “something that demonstrates that the UK is open for business and open for these investments”.

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