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UK car production fell 15.3% in February, reports SMMT

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes

A ninth consecutive month of declining car production at UK manufacturing plants should serve as “a wake-up call” for anyone who thinks the sector could survive a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the SMMT has said.

Car production for the UK and export markets dropped by 11% and 16.4% year-on-year to trigger a 15.3% overall decline during February.

The latest productivity statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that declining demand had resulted in the output of UK car plants falling for a ninth consecutive month.

A total of 123,203 cars left production lines during February to leave overall year-to-date output down by 16.8% at 243,852.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, took the opportunity to state that the ninth months of decline for UK car production should be “a wakeup call” for anyone who thinks the industry could survive a ‘no deal’ Brexit without “serious damage”.

He added: “A managed no deal is a fantasy. Uncertainty has already paralysed investment, cost jobs and damaged our global reputation.

“Business anxiety has now reached fever pitch and we desperately need parliament to come together to restore stability so that we can start to rebuild investor confidence and get back to the business of delivering for the economy.”

Year-to-date, demand for cars in the UK fell by 8%, the SMMT reported, but the majority of the decline has come from the fall in manufacturing for export, which is down by 18.9%.

It said in a statement issued today (March 28): “Weakening demand in key markets continued to affect output, with exports to China down more than half (down 55.6%) and cars destined for the US down 2.8%.

“Meanwhile, production for the EU – the UK’s biggest customer – declined by 14.9%.”

The SMMT said that, although exports have declined in recent months, overseas demand continued to drive output and still accounted for nearly eight-in-10 cars produced – more than half of which are destined for the EU.

It said: “This underlines the importance of securing a truly free and frictionless future trading relationship with our most important trading partner.

“The motor industry has been unequivocal about the impact of no deal, which would have an immediate and potentially irreversible impact on cost, productivity and competitiveness.”


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