The number of cars built in the UK fell for the fifth consecutive month.
British car manufacturing declined for the fifth consecutive month in October, with the number of cars rolling off the production line down almost 10 percent on last year’s figures.
According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), around 140,000 vehicles were built on these shores last month, down from more than 155,600 in October 2017.
The organisation, which represents the UK’s car makers and dealers, blamed the 9.8 percent reduction on consumer uncertainty and a “turbulent” market with upheaval in manufacturers’ model line-ups caused by changes to the economy and emissions test.
Much of the slump in demand came from foreign markets, which are the destination for almost 83 percent of the cars produced in the UK. Demand from abroad fell by just over nine percent, with more than 116,000 vehicles destined for foreign customers. Just a year previously, 128,000 British-built vehicles found homes abroad.
However, the topsy-turvy state of the British car market played its part too, despite the huge number of vehicles heading out of the UK. British consumers’ demand for vehicles built in the UK fell by more than 12 percent, with just over 24,000 cars being built for domestic buyers. That number was over 27,500 in October 2017.
UK buyers’ demand for foreign vehicles fell in October, too, with last month’s new-car registrations showing a three percent slump in demand for all passenger cars.
Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the figures showed the need for stability in the sector, reiterating his desire to see a Brexit agreement reached quickly.
“The fifth consecutive month of decline for UK car manufacturing is undoubtedly concerning and, while a number of factors have been at play, there is no doubt that business and consumer uncertainty is having a significant impact,” he said.
“With eight in 10 British-built cars destined for overseas markets, the majority to the EU, the sector’s dependence on exports cannot be downplayed. Europe is our largest trading partner and securing the right Brexit agreement which allows free and frictionless trade is vital for the future health of our industry.”
The SMMT has been lobbying for a deal that keeps the country close to the EU ever since the Brexit referendum. Earlier this month, Hawes called on MPs to pass Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement, claiming that the free passage of goods was vital to the UK car industry’s success.