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26 Aug, 2021 13:00

UK car production drops to lowest since 1956 due to Covid 'pingdemic' & chip shortages

UK car production drops to lowest since 1956 due to Covid 'pingdemic' & chip shortages

The production of cars in Britain saw a sharp drop in July, marking the worst monthly performance for the industry in 65 years, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The abrupt year-over-year drop of 37.6% is attributed to the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors and a lack of staff, triggered by the ‘pingdemic’. The number of Britons being ‘pinged’ by the app which registers close contacts with those infected and recommends self-isolation for a certain amount of time has reportedly increased over the past months.

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As a result, only 53,438 cars were built – the lowest in 65 years. Production for the British market was down 38.7% to 8,233 units, while export manufacturing dropped 37.4% to 45,205 vehicles. Exports accounted for 84.6% of cars assembled in the country, according to figures revealed by the SMMT.

“These figures lay bare the extremely tough conditions UK car manufacturers continue to face,” Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said. “While the impact of the pingdemic will lessen as self-isolation rules change, the worldwide shortage of semiconductors shows little sign of abating.”

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The official called on the authorities to assist by “continuing the supportive Covid measures currently in place and boosting our competitiveness with a reduction in energy levies and business rates.”

The car manufacturing sector is a crucial part of the British economy, with reported turnover of £78.9 billion ($108 billion). The industry employs around 180,000 people, and about 70 models of vehicles are made in the UK.

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