Uncertainty surrounding forthcoming air quality legislation has been blamed for September’s reduction in British car manufacturing.

According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the country’s car factories produced 6,500 fewer vehicles last month than in September 2016 – a decline of just over four percent.

This was driven primarily by a 14.2 percent drop in domestic demand, which SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes attributed to declining consumer confidence and misunderstandings about diesel vehicles.

‘With UK car manufacturing falling for a fifth month this year, it’s clear that declining consumer and business confidence is affecting domestic demand and hence production volumes. Uncertainty regarding the national air quality plans didn’t help the domestic market for diesel cars, despite the fact that these new vehicles will face no extra charges or restrictions across the UK.

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September’s poor performance leaves the British automotive manufacturing industry’s output 2.2 percent (around 28,000 vehicles) down on last year’s year-to-date figures.

Although that is mostly down to a lack of domestic demand, more than a quarter of that shortfall is caused by the drop in vehicles built for export. Foreign markets took received almost a million vehicles from UK factories in the first nine months of 2016, but that figure has fallen by more than 7,000 this year.

Hawes said that Brexit was the ‘greatest challenge of our times’, and pleaded with the government to reach a deal with the EU.

‘We still don’t have any clarity on what our future relationship with our biggest trading partner will look like, nor detail of the transitional deal being sought,’ he said. ‘Leaving the EU with no deal would be the worst outcome for our sector so we urge government to deliver on its commitments and safeguard the competitiveness of the industry.’