UK car production falls 9.8 per cent in October

Manufacturing saw a 9.8 per cent year-on-year decrease last month, as only 140,374 cars rolled off production lines

UK car production fell 9.8 per cent year-on-year in October, with 15,255 fewer units rolling off production lines compared with the same month last year. 

Only 140,374 cars were built in the UK last month, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) blaming the decline on domestic and international market turbulence, uncertainty over Brexit and model changes.

• Best selling cars in the UK

Production for the home market dropped 12.1 per cent, marking the fifth consecutive month of decline, as 24,246 cars headed for UK showrooms.

Meanwhile, overseas demand fell by 9.3 per cent, although exports still accounted for 82.7 per cent of all cars produced.

Furthermore, year-to-date output remains down, dropping 6.9 per cent with 1.3 million units produced in the first 10 months of the year.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, commented: “Today’s figures highlight the many competing challenges facing UK automotive. It has been a turbulent year and the industry needs stability, something which appears elusive given the lack of resolution to Brexit negotiations. 

“The UK Government has recognised the importance of a deal that maintains free and frictionless trade with the EU, but it is up to all sides to deliver this to safeguard the hundreds of thousands of jobs depending on the sector.

“Stability is also needed at home and a stronger UK new car market would go a long way to boosting manufacturing output. The Chancellor’s Budget next week is the perfect opportunity to stimulate the market, sending consumers and businesses the right signals to encourage the purchase of new cars, which would help bolster economic performance as well as delivering environmental goals.”

UK car manufacturing down 3 per cent in 2017

Last year saw 1,671,166 vehicles roll off UK production lines, down three per cent on the record year of 2016 when the industry achieved its highest production numbers in 17 years.

The SMMT blames the three per cent drop in manufacturing output on a fall in domestic demand and economic uncertainty – domestic vehicle registrations were down 5.7 per cent last year, with production earmarked for the UK market down by 9.8 per cent.

Of the 1.67 million vehicles built, 79.9 per cent were exported with the European Union being the biggest buyer of UK built vehicles. Exports were down 1.1 per cent compared to last year.

The SMMT says the Government needs to urgently reach a post-Brexit transition deal: “This means maintaining the UK’s membership of the single market and customs union and addressing critical details that, if ignored, could have a damaging effect on the industry’s competitiveness.”

While overall vehicle manufacturing was down, engine production in the UK reached record high levels with 2.72 million produced, up 6.9 per cent on 2016. The SMMT says the growth is a result of recent investment into low-emission petrol and diesel engines in the UK. Of the 8,000 people employed in engine production, 3,550 are directly involved in diesel production.

However, the trade body warned that continued uncertainty over diesel policy in the UK will impact the sector. SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes said: “Concern over the future of diesel is having an effect on total production.”

• Motor industry calls for ‘frictionless’ Brexit

While the engine manufacturing sector has benefitted from recent investment, the SMMT said overall investment in the UK’s automotive sector is down. Last year saw £1.1 billion invested in the UK’s automotive sector, down from £1.66 billion in 2016 and £2.5 billion three years ago. The SMMT says part of the drop in investment can be explained by Brexit, with manufacturers and businesses delaying investment until the UK’s trade relationship with the EU is confirmed. Hawes added that the though the drop in investment is “significant” investment is “cyclical.”

Hawes said: “The UK automotive industry continues to produce cars that are in strong demand across the world and it’s encouraging to see growth in many markets. However, we urgently need clarity on the transitional arrangements for Brexit, arrangements which must retain all the current benefits else around 10% of our exports could be threatened overnight.

“We compete in a global race to produce the best cars and must continue to attract investment to remain competitive. Whilst such investment is often cyclical, the evidence is that it is now stalling so we need rapid progress on trade discussions to safeguard jobs and stimulate future growth.”

UK car production may be down, but how has it affected the best-selling cars list? Check out the top ten sellers from 2018…

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