November car production falls 1.3% as UK faces ‘make or break time’ in Brexit negotiations

Time 10 months ago

The number of cars UK factories churned out in November fell by 1.4 per cent, latest figures show.

Data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows UK car production topped 106,243 units in November, down 1.4 per cent (107,744) on the same month last year.

Year-to-date stood at 849,246 units, down 31 per cent on the same period last year (1,230,055), representing a loss of 380,809 models at a cost of some £10.5bn to the sector.

However, while November recorded a better year-to-date performance than many other months, the fall ‘masks a particularly weak November 2019’ when ‘precautionary factory shutdowns in anticipation of a potential ‘no deal’ Brexit on October 31 depressed output’, said the SMMT.

While the number of cars built for the home market dropped by 10.4 per cent to 15,646, export numbers rose by 0.3 per cent – or 310 units – to 90,597 thanks to shipments to the EU, Asia and the US.

The SMMT predicts the UK will produce fewer than a million cars this year for only the second time since the early eighties

The trade body said the UK is now facing a ‘make or break time’ in the run-up to December 31, and reiterated its fears of a no-deal Brexit saying there’s the potential for ‘further production losses amounting to £55.4bn over the next five years if the sector is forced to trade on WTO conditions’ in the event of no-deal.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Yet another decline for UK car production is of course concerning, but not nearly as concerning as the New Year nightmare facing the automotive industry if we do not get a Brexit deal that works for the sector.

‘With just nine days to go, the threat of ‘no deal’ is palpable and the sector, now also reeling from the latest coronavirus resurgence, Tier 4 showroom lockdowns and disruption at critical UK ports, needs more than ever the tariff-free trading arrangements on which our competitiveness is founded.

‘It is finally make or break time, as being forced to trade on WTO terms would be a hammer blow for many automotive businesses, workers and their families, so we must get a deal – and one that avoids the devastation of punitive tariffs for all automotive products, from day one.

‘For the long-term survival of UK automotive, there is quite simply no other option.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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