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UK car production down 18.2% in October as sector awaits Brexit deal

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes

UK car manufacturing output fell by 18.2% in October with 110,179 units leaving factory gates, according to the latest figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This represented 24,490 fewer cars made than in the same month in 2019, with the impact of coronavirus and new lockdowns at home and overseas subduing demand in key markets, said the SMMT.

SMMT reported car production fell by 5% in September, recording the worst performance for the month since 1995

October’s decline was driven largely by falling exports, particularly to the EU and US, down 19.1%, the equivalent to a loss of 21,569 vehicles.

Shipments to the US fell by 26.0% and to the EU by 25.7%. Major Asian markets fared better, with exports to Japan and China up 57.1% and 9.7% respectively, reflecting less stringent lockdown measures.

Production for the domestic market also fell by 13.6% to 18,629 units, with 2,921 fewer cars made for buyers in the UK than a year earlier.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “These figures are yet more bad news for an industry battered by Covid, Brexit and, now, the unprecedented challenge of a complete shift to electrified vehicles in under a decade.

“While the sector has demonstrated its resilience, we need the right conditions to remain competitive both as a manufacturing nation and a progressive market.”

“Yesterday’s Spending Review recognised the need to invest in a green industrial revolution, but this must be at globally competitive levels and equal to the scale of ambition to keep this sector match fit.

“Above all, we must have a Brexit deal, one with zero tariffs, zero quotas and rules of origin that benefit existing products and the next generation of zero emission cars, as well as a phase in period that allows this transition to be ‘made in Britain’.”

A recent study by the SMMT revealed that prepartations for Brexit have already cost the UK's automotive sector £735 million.

The news comes as the sector awaits agreement of a UK-EU trade deal and with new figures revealing the cost of trading with WTO tariffs long-term.

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