Worker holding bodywork on car production lineWorker holding bodywork on car production line

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Car production down but the storm is coming

Time 2:07 pm, March 27, 2020

British car manufacturing fell by 0.8 per cent in February, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Some 122,171 vehicles rolled off production lines in the month, representing a loss of just over 1,000 units compared with February 2019. The decline was driven by slower demand in some key global export markets.

Global shipments fell 3.1 per cent to just short of 95,000 units. Combined EU demand rallied (up 3.6 per cent), but exports to the US and Asia fell substantially.


Meanwhile, there was positive news for the domestic market, where output rose 7.8 per cent, with 27,172 cars produced.

Unprecedented challenge

Year-to-date figures show a 1.5 per cent year-on-year drop in overall production.

The figures come at a time of unprecedented challenge for the UK and its automotive industry, with all car manufacturing plants now on shutdown as the country focuses efforts on overcoming the Covid-19 crisis.

An initial assessment commissioned by the SMMT of the potential impact of these shutdowns suggests a loss of around 200,000 units by the end of 2020.


However, the impact could be far more severe if the crisis, and therefore shutdowns, were to last for months instead of weeks.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Despite the myriad global challenges the UK automotive industry has faced in recent times, it remains fundamentally strong and February’s figures reflect that. However, these figures also reflect the calm before the storm.

‘With UK car plants now effectively on national shutdown and many global markets closed, the outlook is of deep concern. We wholeheartedly welcome the government’s extraordinary package of emergency support for businesses and workers, but this must get through to businesses now.’

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Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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