UK car production plummeted 99.7 per cent in April as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

The worst month for UK car production since the Second World War saw just 197 cars leave British factories – 45 for the home market and 152 exports. These were premium, luxury and sports models that had been assembled the previous month before lockdown and just needed the finishing touches added.

Unable to build cars, many manufacturers chose to instead help the NHS – the industry produced a total of 711,495 pieces of personal protective equipment during April, with some also working on high-tech ventilators for hospitals.

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The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the UK’s year-to-date car production is currently down 27.6 per cent, with 121,811 fewer cars built.

The UK’s 168,000 automotive manufacturing employees are now returning to work, but brands are scaling their production back up at different rates, meaning output will undoubtedly be restricted. The latest independent analysis suggests that less than one million cars will be produced in the UK this year, costing the automotive sector around £12.5 billion.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, 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.

“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 [the] Government to work with us to accelerate this fundamentally strong sector’s recovery, stimulate investment and safeguard jobs.

“Support to get all businesses through this short-term turmoil will ensure the UK’s many globally-renowned brands can continue to make the products that remain so desirable to consumers the world over and, in turn, help deliver long-term prosperity for Britain.”

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