UK car production in September slumped to lowest level in 25 years

Time 12 months ago

UK car production fell to it slowest level for 25 years, new data shows.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said output slumped by five per cent in September, with factories churning out 114,732 cars – a decline of some 6,000 units on the same month in 2019, and the worst performance since 1995.

Exports declined by 9.7 per cent in the month to 87,533 units – some 9,500 fewer vehicles year-on-year.


The SMMT said shipments to key overseas destinations, including China, the EU and US fell 1.2 per cent, 3.3 per cent and 30.0 per cent respectively.

Production for the UK, meanwhile, climbed 14.5 per cent, equivalent to a rise of 3,440 vehicles. The SMMT said this was largely as a result of new model introductions that were in run out in the same month last year.

The SMMT data showed that after the first nine months of 2020, UK car production dropped by 35.9 per cent behind 2019 levels, with 632,824 vehicles built.

An independent outlook forecasts factories to make fewer than 885,000 cars this year – the first time volumes will have dipped below one million since 2009.

‘With production already strained, the additional blow of “no deal” would be devastating for the sector, its workers and their families.’

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, welcomed the resumption of Brexit negotiations and called for both sides to prioritise the automotive sector.

He said:’These figures are yet more grim reading for UK automotive as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc both at home and in key overseas markets.

‘With the end of transition now just 63 days away, the fact that both sides are back around the table is a relief but we need negotiators to agree a deal urgently, one that prioritises automotive, enhances innovation and supports the industry in addressing the global threat of climate change.

‘With production already strained, the additional blow of “no deal” would be devastating for the sector, its workers and their families.’

Bucking the overarching trends, September production of battery electric vehicles grew 37 per cent year-on-year, with the overwhelming majority (76.6 per cent) exported, many of these into the EU.

The SMMT reported last week a 10 per cent World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariff as a result of a no-deal Brexit, would increase the cost of UK-made electric cars exported to the EU by an average £2,000 per vehicle.

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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