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UK car manufacturing suffers ‘serious’ 19.6% decline in November

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes

​The SMMT has attributed UK car manufacturing’s “serious” decline in productivity of 19.6% during November to falling business and consumer confidence caused by Brexit.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported that 129,030 units had been manufactured in UK plants last month, in what it said was as a continuation of recent trends, with weaker demand in the UK and in key European and Asian export markets exacerbated by the ongoing impact of new regulation alongside planned model and technology changes.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “It’s very concerning to see demand for UK built cars decline in November, with output seriously impacted by falling business and consumer confidence in the UK allied to weakening export markets.”

The SMMT’s monthly summary of the fortunes of the automotive manufacturing sector noted the dramatic fall-off in demand for vehicles destined for export.

While home production fell by 1.9% during November, exports experienced a steeper 22.8% drop – falling for the fifth month in a row.

Just over 105,000 cars were exported to global markets in November, still representing some eight in every 10 cars leaving British factories.

In the year to date, more than 1.4 million cars have been built in the UK overall, an 8.2% year on year decline, with export volumes down 75,085 units and output for the domestic market down 54,143.

Hawes again made no mention of the disruption caused by the September 1 introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) on the sector – central to the Society’s explanation of falling registration volumes – in his commentary on the manufacturing sector, instead highlighting the effects of Brexit uncertainty on consumer confidence.

He said: “With fewer than 100 days until the UK leaves the European Union, the automotive industry needs certainty and a ‘no-deal’ Brexit must be ruled out.

“Thousands of jobs in British car factories and supply chains depend on free and frictionless trade with the EU – if the country falls off a cliff-edge next March the consequences would be devastating.”

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