UK car manufacturing down 2.1% as increased exports fail to offset domestic decline

Car production in the UK fell 2.1 per cent in January 2020, marking the fifth consecutive month of decline

UK car manufacturing was down 2.1 per cent year-on-year in the first month of 2020, as an increase in exports failed to offset the decline in domestic demand.

Some 118,314 cars rolled off British production lines in January, down from 120,890 in the same month last year and marking the fifth consecutive month of decline.

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Exports were up 4.1 per cent year-on-year to 97,870 units, thanks to a number of appealing new models being brought to market, driving demand in Europe and Asia, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This wasn’t enough to prevent an overall decline, though, with demand from the domestic market falling by 23.9 per cent from 26,864 to 20,444 units as a result of weak consumer confidence. As such, the UK saw the weakest January for car production for nine years.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, commented: “Exports are the bedrock for UK car manufacturing so a rise in January exports is welcome following recent declining demand in overseas markets. These figures, however, still give great cause for concern, with another month of falling car production driven by a lack of confidence and corresponding weak demand in the UK.

“The upcoming Budget is an opportunity for the government to provide supportive measures to stimulate the market, but the biggest boost would be the agreement of an ambitious free trade deal with Europe. This would end the ongoing uncertainty and help the UK to recover its hard-won reputation as a great place for automotive investment.”

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