British car production plunged by 95.4 percent in May amid the coronavirus pandemic compared with the same month last year, marking the worst May since 1946, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said Friday.
Data showed that only 5,314 vehicles rolled off production lines across Britain as car plants either closed or restarted at a reduced capacity due to COVID-19, with 4,260 units being exported and just 1,054 for domestic buyers.
"While some two thirds of the UK's automotive plants started getting back to business during the month, capacity was severely held back by social distancing requirements and reduced demand, with key global markets only just beginning to reopen and the UK remaining in lockdown," said the SMMT.
Meanwhile, in the first five months this year, British cars manufactured reached 324,763 units, representing a decline of 41.7 percent from the same period in 2019, with "the full year outlook now expected to be fewer than one million units," the business organization said.
It warned that "potentially up to one in six jobs is at risk of redundancy" when the furlough scheme, a move launched by the government to support employees to keep jobs and receive a certain amount of wages, comes to an end in November.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: "May's figures are yet more evidence of why the UK industry, like its global rivals, needs dedicated support to drive a successful restart."
"Government assistance so far has been vital in keeping many businesses afloat, but the job isn't done," said Hawes, adding that "measures to boost cashflow, including additional and tailored finance schemes, tax relief and business rates deferral would deliver immediate results when liquidity is most acute."
"We have to retain the highly skilled jobs the sector provides but also ensure the business conditions are competitive so we can unlock the investment that will drive long-term recovery -- a green recovery -- which is inextricably linked to the sector's success," Hawes added.