The number of cars made in Britain fell to its lowest point since the Second World War during April, down 99.7% compared to the same month last year.
Just 152 cars were built for export and 45 for customers in the UK during the month, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Car makers were among thousands of businesses across the country forced to close after the government imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Many plants were used instead to make personal protective equipment needed by healthcare workers treating those affected by the illness.
The SMMT said car manufacturers had made 711,495 pieces of PPE, including face shields and medical gowns.
Car production in the year to date is down 27.6% with 121,811 fewer cars built.
The sector’s 168,000 employees are starting to return to work, with around half of the country’s car and engine plants expected to be operating by the end of May.
However, the SMMT said it expected lost production this year would cost the sector up to £12.5bn.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, 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 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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