Manufacturers' group blames the "continued threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit".
British car manufacturing was down by more than 15 percent during the first nine months of 2019, according to figures revealed today.
The data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that the first nine months of this year saw just over 989,000 cars roll off UK production lines. Over the same period in 2018, that number stood at more than 1.17 million.
That 15.6-percent reduction in output followed a September in which manufacturing volumes fell by almost four percent compared with the same month last year. Just over 127,000 cars were built in September 2018, compared with 122,256 last month.
According to the SMMT, that reduction was a result of falling demand both at home and abroad, although domestic demand fell slightly more sharply than that of foreign countries. A 5.1-percent drop in production of cars for the UK market saw just 24,121 cars head out of UK factories, destined for British driveways.
Meanwhile, a slump in demand from foreign countries caused output for foreign markets to shrink by 3.4 percent, with 98,135 British-built cars heading abroad. However, last September, that figure was 101,621.
The story has been broadly similar throughout the year, with the first nine months seeing domestic demand shrink by 10.4 percent, while demand for exports has fallen by 16.8 percent. It leaves the UK marginally less dependent on foreign markets, though. This time last year, exports made up 81.2 percent of cars built in the UK during 2018. Fast-forward 12 months, though, and that has fallen to exactly 80 percent.
Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the fall in demand was down to challenges both at home and abroad, although he said the “threat” of a no-deal Brexit had cost the industry millions.
“Another bitterly disappointing month reflects domestic and international market contraction,” he said. “Most worrying of all though is the continued threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, something which has caused international investment to stall and cost UK operations hundreds of millions of pounds, money that would have better been spent in meeting the technological challenges facing the global industry.
“A general election may ultimately provide some certainty, but does not yet remove the spectre of no-deal which will continue to inhibit the UK industry’s prospects unless we can agree and implement a new, ambitious and permanent relationship that safeguards free and frictionless trade.”