UK car output up 9.9% y-o-y in April as supply chain issues ease

(Reuters) – The number of cars made in Britain rose by 9.9% year-over-year in April as easing supply chain snarls helped boost production of electric vehicles, while exports to Europe strengthened, an industry body said on Thursday.

European Union remained a top market with more than half of all exports to the region, while electric vehicle volumes were well over a third of total car output, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

A total of 66,527 cars rolled out of factory gates last month, 5,973 more than in April last year, SMMT said, logging the third consecutive month of production growth.

Exports rose 14.7% to 54,820 units.

“These figures also show how exports, particularly to Europe, continue to be the foundation of British automotive manufacturing so we must do all we can to safeguard the competitiveness of these trading relationships,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said in a statement.

Hawes’ comments come as Britain’s car industry grapples with post-Brexit export rules.

Under the trade deal agreed when Britain left the European Union, the origin rule requires, starting 2024, a rising proportion of electric vehicle’s parts to be made locally to qualify for trade without tariffs.

Stellantis, the world’s No. 3 carmaker by sales, warned last week that British car plants will close with the loss of thousands of jobs unless the Brexit deal is swiftly renegotiated.

Stellantis wants the UK government and the European Union to extend current rules on the sourcing of parts until 2027.

“Most immediately, this means finding a solution … else we risk the application of tariffs – and therefore unnecessary cost – on the very vehicles we are trying to encourage consumers to purchase,” Hawes said.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Shweta Agarwal)