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- The UK produced only 197 cars in April, 99.7% lower than its output in April 2019, with production almost entirely stopped by coronavirus, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Friday.Â
- In the same month last year, the UK made over 70,000 cars.
- Year-to-date production also fell 27.6% compared to 2019, to 319,449 units.
- The SMMT expects less than 1 million cars to be produced by year-end compared to its January pre-crisis outlook.
- Despite the return of workers to factories, the SMMT is predicting a Â£12.5 billion ($15.4 billion) loss to the industry.
- Car makers in the UK have now made over 700,000 pieces of PPE since COVID-19, the society said.
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The UK produced only 197 cars this April, fall of almost 100% since April last year, in the latest sign that coronavirus has ravaged various manufacturing industries.Â
UK’s motor trade association, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said on Friday: “British car production falls -99.7% in April with 197 units made as coronavirus pandemic closes factories.”
The figure is a tiny fraction of the output produced in April 2019 at 70,971.
“As the coronavirus crisis forced plants to close, just 197 premium, luxury and sports cars left factory gates in the month, models that had been assembled prior to shutdowns with only finishing touches needed,” SMMT said.Â
Year-to-date production was also down 27.6% at 319,449 units, compared to 2019.
Outlook is also gloomyÂ
The SMMT is also bracing for annual UK car production to be below 1 million units in 2020, which if it comes true would be lower volumes than in the depths of the great recession in 2009, and a third lower than expected compared to January pre-crisis levels.Â
While the UK’s 168,000 automative manufacturing employees are starting to return to work, the SMMT cautioned that factories resuming operations at different time scales and ongoing social distancing measures could still lead to a loss of 400,000 units by year end compared to the January outlook.
This could generate a loss of Â£12.5 billion ($15.4 billion) to the automotive industry, the SMMT said.
Car-makers focus on PPE equipment insteadÂ
The fall in the number of cars produced is partly driven by the fact many manufactures refocused efforts on producing personal protective equipment (PPE), including visors, medical gowns and face shields to use for healthcare professionals instead of making cars.
The SMMT said car makers have now made 711,495 pieces of PPE along with medical equipment including high-tech ventilators as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.
A number of automakers in Europe halted productions in March due to coronavirus shutdowns.Â
Rolls Royce shut production at its British plant for two weeks in March to help protect workers.
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SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes 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.”
He added: “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.”
Earlier this month, the SMMT claimed that just 4,321 cars were registered in April, which is the lowest monthly figure since 1946. In April 2019 161,064 cars were sold.
In the US, General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles restarted factoriesÂ almost a fortnight ago after a complete North American shutdown in March to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
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