Britain's annual car production fell to the lowest in more than six decades, crippled by a global semiconductor shortage and COVID curbs in China, while the number of electric vehicles made in the UK rose, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

SMMT, an automotive trade association in the UK, said 775,014 cars were made in Britain in 2022. That is 9.8% less than 2021 and 40.5% below the 2019 pre-pandemic levels. It is the lowest annual output level since 1956.

UK factories, however, produced a record 234,066 battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicles, with combined volumes rising 4.5% year-on-year to account for almost a third of the overall car output.

"These (total) figures reflect just how tough 2022 was for UK car manufacturing, though we still made more electric vehicles than ever before," SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

The global auto industry has been grappling with a COVID pandemic-induced shortage of key components for the last two years, particularly semiconductor chips, causing the manufacturers to report lengthy order books for new cars. Supply chain disruptions in China on account of lockdowns, too, weighed.

Total annual output for the domestic UK market rose 9.4%, while exports dropped 14%.

In December, the overall car production fell 17.9% over the year earlier, snapping two straight months of growth in output.

(Reporting by Hani Kollathodi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)