‘Pingdemic’ self-isolation and chip shortage see car output fall by 40%

Staff shortages caused by ‘pingdemic’ self-isolation threaten to curb a rebound in British car production, industry leaders warned today as they recorded the weakest ‘normal’ June since 1953 – the year Queen Elizabeth was crowned.

That, and a shortage of key microchips, brought the six-month production total for the first half of this year to 498,923 cars, a drop of a whopping 38.4% from the five-year average and a loss of 311,160 value vehicles. of more than £8.5 billion, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Car bosses demanded “immediate action to reduce the impact of self-isolation or risk recovery.”

Car bosses demanded 'immediate action to reduce the impact of self-isolation or reduce the risk of further damage to the recovery' after half-year reports showed car production was down nearly 40%

Car bosses demanded ‘immediate action to mitigate the impact of self-isolation or risk a further blow to recovery’ after half-year reports showed car production was down nearly 40%

The main problems holding back production are “staff absenteeism due to staff “pinging” and global semiconductor shortages, they said.

The SMMT called on the government to bring forward the August 16 target date for exempting fully vaccinated adults from self-isolation and introduce a test-to-release scheme to support those workers who are not yet fully vaccinated.

It said the dramatic drop “represents how far the sector has to go before it can talk about recovery.”

The five-year production average for the first half of the pre-covid years 2015-2019 stands at 810,083 units.

Barring Covid in June 2020, the 69,097 cars that rolled off UK production lines in June this year were the worst performance in 68 years, the SMMT said.

It concluded: ‘The latest forecasts suggest that the global chip shortage of key microprocessors could hit UK production by as many as 100,000 vehicles’.

Of June’s 69,097 performance in June, the SMMT said: “While this was an increase compared to the Covid-depressed June 2020, it still represents the worst June total since 1953 as the global chip shortage caused by the pandemic, and other factors persisted. to take a toll on production.”

The poor performance rounded out “a turbulent first half” for British car production, the car industry bosses said.

The impact of the pandemic, new post-Brexit trade rules with Europe and the supply difficulties created ‘ongoing challenges’.

Speaking about the crippling effect of the pingdemic, the SMMT said: ‘Despite the easing of Covid restrictions, manufacturers are experiencing staff shortages due to self-isolation as a result of reporting contacts outside the workplace.

“This puts production at risk and is an extra brake on the recovery of the sector.”

It also cited an independent study that predicted the negative impact on planned UK car production from the global shortage of critical semiconductors could be as high as 100,000 units this year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The industry continues to face headwinds, particularly from global semiconductor shortages and absenteeism due to staff ‘ping’.”

He noted: “Companies have made sure that their facilities are Covid safe, but urgent action is needed, such as bringing forward the August 16 target date for exempting fully vaccinated adults from self-isolation and introducing a “test to release” scheme to support those workers who are not yet fully vaccinated.”

Barring Covid in June 2020, the 69,097 cars that rolled off UK production lines in June this year were the worst performance in 68 years, the SMMT said.

Barring Covid in June 2020, the 69,097 cars that rolled off UK production lines in June this year were the worst performance in 68 years, the SMMT said.

Barring Covid in June 2020, the 69,097 cars that rolled off UK production lines in June this year were the worst performance in 68 years, the SMMT said.

Mr Hawes said: ‘While the UK car industry continues to feel the effects of the global pandemic, with a significant production decline in the first half and a few difficult months ahead, the sector has the potential to recover.

‘The latest investments in new models and battery production show that a bright future is within reach.’

But he also warned: “Yet the industry continues to face headwinds, particularly from global semiconductor shortages and staff absenteeism due to staff ‘ping’.

Operating conditions remained ‘challenging’.

Carmakers needed specific measures to boost competitiveness, such as a ‘Build Back Better Fund’ and the alleviation of high energy costs to ‘get the sector back on track and towards the volumes that will make UK facilities viable’.

On the positive side, exports continued to support UK car production with more than eight in ten (83.4%) models made in the UK so far shipped overseas this year – more than half (51.7% ) went to the EU.

The US is the UK’s second most important global market (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 (PHEVs) and self-charging electric hybrid vehicles has remained stable to date at around a quarter (22.6%) of all alternative fuel cars.

Electrified or alternative fuel vehicles now account for almost a quarter (22.6%) of cars produced.

But the SMMT warned: ‘With the end of the sales date for new petrol and diesel cars in less than nine years, the industry faces the challenge of accelerating the transition from fossil fuel to zero-emission vehicles.

“This requires significant investment in vehicle manufacturing, battery production and supply chain transformation, for which a clear commitment to improving the competitiveness of the UK automotive industry is essential.”

Car bosses said the current situation remains “difficult” for UK manufacturers with supply uncertainty expected to persist through 2022.

But it welcomed recent announcements of significant and ‘much needed’ long-term investments, including in Nissan Sunderland, Opel’s Ellesmere Port plant and Lotus in Norfolk.

This was “deeply needed” after four years of uncertainty over Brexit and some recent factory closures, it said.

But the SMMT stressed: ‘However, much more such investment is needed if the British car manufacturing sector is to keep pace with its overseas rivals.’

It said its recent report ‘Full Throttle: Driving UK Automotive Competitiveness’ sets out a series of steps needed to attract such commitments and ensure the sector’s long-term competitiveness.

Car bosses said the current shortage of semiconductor microchips remains 'difficult' for UK manufacturers with supply uncertainty expected to persist through 2022

Car bosses said the current shortage of semiconductor microchips remains 'difficult' for UK manufacturers with supply uncertainty expected to persist through 2022

Car bosses said the current shortage of semiconductor microchips remains ‘difficult’ for UK manufacturers with supply uncertainty expected to persist through 2022

Recommendations include the creation by the government of a ‘Build Back Better Fund’ for the manufacturing industry, the construction of battery gigafactories with a capacity of 60 GWh and the installation of 2.3 million public charging points by 2030.

The UK car industry is worth £78.9 billion in revenue and £15.3 billion in value added.

About 180,000 people are directly employed in manufacturing and 864,000 in the wider automotive industry.

It accounts for 13% of total UK exports of goods and invests more than £3 billion each year in research and development in the car industry.

Over 30 UK-based manufacturers build around 70 vehicle models, supported by 2,500 component suppliers and some of the world’s most skilled engineers.

British car makers have been pushing to get double-stuck staff back to work safely and end the disaster that has seen some companies lose up to a third of their staff through self-isolation.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, later revealed that it had already urged the government to allow double-punched auto workers to end self-isolation, subject to a test, but was rejected by ministers .

Some companies are losing up to a third of their staff as a result of the ping, he revealed.

Their call echoes a Daily Mail campaign to get employees back to work with double punches if they’re pinged but test negative.

Mr Hawes said: ‘We have raised this prospect with the government. We speak to them most weeks. It has been on the agenda.

‘The staff shortage is due to people being pinged.

“Anecdotally, we have some companies losing from 5% to anything up to 30% that are still gone due to self-isolation.”

Some of the hardest hit are the main suppliers of the main factories.

But Mr Hawes stressed, “You can’t make a car from 99% of the parts.”

“Some companies are already downsizing shifts. Others have managed to make it into the summer break and that gives them a breather.’

But the government is limited in the sectors it will allow to take advantage of double vaccination waivers. It keeps a tight grip on the exemptions.

“You can argue that some automotive processes are essential, but it’s not the same as stacking food shelves.”

“The government is aware of our concerns. We have raised this matter with them. But the decision at the moment is that car production and the automotive sector will not be relaxed.’

He emphasized that engine manufacturers wanted an exemption on the basis of double jabs and had insisted: ‘Yes, we would welcome that.’

“Manufacturers have made great efforts to keep their workplaces safe during Covid.”

He added: ‘We also want the government to bring forward that August 17 date so that companies can start work immediately after the summer break.

“We will take every opportunity to ensure that we can get our employees safely into the workplace.”

:: He said the UK would build less than a million cars by the end of the year, and it would take “a few years” to get back to 1.2 million to 1.3 million.

The shortage of semiconductors was also a result of Covid. The average car has 1,500, and high-tech cars need many more. The automotive industry accounts for about 15% of the semiconductor market, but companies that make them give priority to consumer goods companies, which have the majority.

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