CAR production has fallen for the eighth month in a row amid warnings that the sector faces a ‘clear and present danger’ from the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Around 120,600 cars left factories in January, down by 18.2 per cent on the same month a year ago, reported the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today.
Exports slumped by 21.4 per cent to 93,781 vehicles, collapsing by 72 per cent in output destined for China and by 20 per cent to other EU countries.
Manufacturing for the UK market fell by 4.8 per cent, with the SMMT saying political uncertainty had continued to dent consumer confidence.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Another month of decline is a serious concern. The industry faces myriad challenges, from falling demand in key markets to escalating global trade tensions and the need to stay at the forefront of future technology.
‘But the clear and present danger remains the threat of a no-deal Brexit, which is monopolising time and resources, undermining competitiveness.
‘Every day a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility is another day automotive companies pay the price in additional and potentially pointless costs. No-deal must be taken off the table immediately and permanently.’
Almost a third of 182 automotive companies responding to an SMMT survey last November said they had postponed or cancelled UK investment decisions because of Brexit, with one in five having already lost business as a direct consequence. Around one in eight were relocating operations overseas and the same proportion cutting jobs.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: ‘These figures show why Labour has been so critical of the uncertainty caused by the prime minister’s shambolic Brexit negotiations.
‘They confirm what Labour has been warning of for months, that the government’s botched Brexit negotiations and the looming prospect of ‘no deal’ is undermining British industry.
‘The government must end this chaos and back Labour’s credible alternative plan, including a comprehensive customs union, before it is too late for car manufacturing, the companies in its supply chain and all those who work in it.’