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UK car production continues double digit decline in November

Bentley assembly line

UK car production fell by 16.5% in November, with 107,753 units manufactured, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Year-to-date car production drops is down 14.5%, with declines in 17 of the last 18 months.

Trends seen throughout 2019 include soft consumer and business confidence, weak demand in overseas markets and model production changes.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “UK car production is export-led, so we look forward to working with the new government to deliver an ambitious trade deal with the EU. To ensure our competitiveness at a time of dramatic technological change, that deal needs to be tariff free and avoid barriers to trade, which, for automotive, means that our standards must be aligned.

“This can be achieved if government and industry work in partnership to re-establish the UK as a great place to invest and ensure that automotive keeps delivering for Britain.”

An additional factor in the poor performance in November was the factory shutdowns around Halloween. These closures were planned to mitigate against any disruption arising from the potential departure of the UK from the EU without a deal on 31 October.

These stoppages were in addition to those in April, when car production fell 44.5%, and add to the list of costly Brexit contingency measures implemented by the automotive sector - a bill that stands at more than £500 million.

In November, output for both home and overseas markets fell by 26.6% and 14.2% respectively. In the year to date, meanwhile, volumes are down to 1,231,679 units, with by far the majority (80.8%) heading abroad and most of these exports (54.7%) into the EU, still by far UK Automotive’s largest trading partner.

Justin Benson, UK head of automotive at KPMG, added: “The latest car production numbers are disappointing, but it’s all about consumer confidence. People have been waiting for more certainty, as well as the result of the general election. Markets and foreign exchanges have been ‘reasonably’ kind to the result so far, which bodes well for some pent up demand in the New Year. Raise a cheer this festive season to the power of the consumer as confidence improves.”


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