United Kingdom

Car production is at '68-year low' as pingdemic threatens to throttle the industry, bosses warn 

Car bosses warned last night that the pingdemic threatens to put the brakes on Britain's motor industry after its weakest 'normal' June since 1953.

A total of 69,097 cars rolled off production lines last month – the worst June in 68 years apart from 2020 when factories were reopening after months of lockdown.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders blamed the slump on 'absenteeism as a result of staff being pinged' and a global shortage of microchips.  

A total of 69,097 cars rolled off production lines last month – the worst June in 68 years apart from 2020 when factories were reopening after months of lockdown (stock image)

Harvest warning 

Farmers and growers are struggling to harvest crops because pickers are being required to self-isolate.

In theory, critical workers in the food supply chain will be given an exemption to quarantine rules, however industry leaders have said the system is mired in complexity and confusion.

Tom Bradshaw, vice-president of the National Farmers' Union, said there is 'real frustration' because growers do not know if they will have sufficient staff to pick crops, such as peas.

'When they're ready to harvest we've got to be able to harvest them... we have got businesses now that are under real pressure because people are having to self-isolate,' he said.

Chief executive Mike Hawes called for urgent action to help employees stay at work. 

He told the Daily Mail some firms are losing up to a third of their workers.

The SMMT said the poor June performance rounded off a 'turbulent first six months' for production in Britain, with the pandemic, post-Brexit trading rules and supply issues causing 'ongoing challenges'.

It stressed the pingdemic was 'putting production at risk and is another drag on the sector's recovery'.

The organisation also cited an independent study forecasting that the negative impact on planned UK car production due to the worldwide shortage of critical semiconductors could be as much as 100,000 units this year.

On the positive side, exports continued to sustain British car manufacturing with more than eight in ten (83.4%) models made in the UK so far this year shipped overseas - of which more than half (51.7%) headed into the EU.

The US is the UK's next most important global market (taking 18.8% of exports) followed by China (7.8%), Japan (1.9%) and Australia (1.8%).

UK production of pure electric electric cars, plug in hybrids (PHEV) and self-charging electric hybrid vehicles remained steady for the year-to-date with around a quarter (22.6%) of all cars alternatively fuelled.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders blamed the slump on 'absenteeism as a result of staff being pinged' and a global shortage of microchips (stock image)

But the SMMT warned: 'With the looming end of sale date for new petrol and diesel cars less than nine years away, the industry is challenged to accelerate the transition from fossil fuel to zero emission vehicles.

'This will require significant investment into vehicle manufacturing, battery production and supply chain transformation for which a clear commitment to enhancing UK automotive competitiveness is essential.'

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