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UK car manufacturing volumes declined 9.8% in October, reports SMMT

McLaren Automotive production line

Car production levels at manufacturers' UK plants declined by 9.8% during October to leave the overall year-to-date decline at 6.9%, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has reported.

A total of 140,374 cars left production lines last month as volumes destined for the home and overseas markets declined by 12.1% and 9.3%, respectively.

The SMMT once again made no mention of the effects of the September introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) on the productivity of its members in an official statement issued today (November 29), however.

Instead, and official statements said that “market turbulence at home and overseas, uncertainty over Brexit and model changes all played a part in the decline”.

October’s production decline is the fifth consecutive month of reducing volumes, with just 24,246 of the cars produced in UK factories destined for UK showrooms.

Despite the decline of 9.3% in vehicle produced for overseas markets, exports continued to account for 82.7% of all cars produced.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “The fifth consecutive month of decline for UK car manufacturing is undoubtedly concerning and, while a number of factors have been at play, there is no doubt that business and consumer uncertainty is having a significant impact.

“With eight in 10 British-built cars destined for overseas markets, the majority to the EU, the sector’s dependence on exports cannot be downplayed.

“Europe is our largest trading partner and securing the right Brexit agreement which allows free and frictionless trade is vital for the future health of our industry.”

Commenting on October’s car manufacturing figures, released today by the SMMT, Justin Benson, head of Automotive at KPMG UK, also focussed on the effects of Brexit negotiations on consumer confidence in his analysis of the UK manufacturing sector's decline in vehicle production. He said: that the automotive sector in the UK was "at a hiatus".

He said: "Consumer confidence is on a downward trend and is already at lower levels when compared to the same period last year.

“Both consumers and businesses need more certainty, particularly as it’s likely that we’ll see one or two votes on the Brexit deal next month, so December will be a crucial period. Voting the deal through could release pent up demand and we could see a levelling out or rise in demand for cars. On the other hand, a no-deal scenario would not only reduce consumer confidence further, it will make the UK automotive sector highly uncompetitive in a global market where over 80% of UK output is for export.”  

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