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The global chip shortage is leaving car makers stuck in the slow lane

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This May, car manufacturers produced less than 55,000 vehicles, only half as much as two years ago.


Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

The production of cars in the UK has more than halved compared to the same period before the COVID-19 pandemic, due at least in part to an on-going shortage of chips that are needed to power everything from engine management systems to in-car entertainment. 

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), this May car manufacturers produced almost 55,000 vehicles in the UK – a number that, at first glance, seems healthy in comparison to the meagre 5,314 cars that were produced in the same month of the previous year.  

But 2020’s statistics have to be put in context: with the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly gathering pace, factory lines came to a halt as most manufacturers decided to close their facilities altogether, in line with government guidance.

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