UK car production resumed its downward trend in September, with output falling 3.8% to round off a turbulent first nine months of the year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It says 122,256 units were built in the month, almost 5,000 fewer than September 2018, marking a 15-month period of decline for the sector — notwithstanding August, when several key plants kept production lines running after moving the traditional annual shutdown period to April to guard against disruption from the original 29 March Brexit date.
In September 2019, production for the UK declined by 5.1%, as political and economic uncertainty combined to dampen the domestic market; exports fell 3.4% as ‘cooling demand’ in key global and European markets affected overseas orders.
Output in the first nine months of 2019 was down 15.6%, marking the weakest first three quarters since 2011.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive (www.smmt.co.uk
), said: “Another bitterly disappointing month reflects domestic and international market contraction.
"Most worrying of all is the continued threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, something which has caused international investment to stall and cost UK operations hundreds of millions of pounds — money that would have better been spent in meeting the technological challenges facing the global industry.
"A general election may ultimately provide some certainty, but does not yet remove the spectre of no deal, which will continue to inhibit the UK industry’s prospects unless we can agree and implement a new, ambitious and permanent relationship that safeguards free and frictionless trade.”
Meanwhile, UK commercial-vehicle production declined 11.7% in September (compared with September 2018), with 7,320 units manufactured.
Output for overseas markets was up some 25.4%, but production for the domestic market fell 44.5% in the face of on-going political and economic uncertainty.
Production for the first nine months of 2019 was down 13.2% overall, driven by the decline in export orders, which were down more than 7,400 units. Production for the UK was also down, by 2.6%.
UK engine manufacturing in September was down 1.9%, as demand declined at home and internationally.
Production for the first nine months of 2019 was 7.4% behind 2018 levels, with orders from British plants suffering the biggest fall.
More than six out of 10 UK-built engines were shipped overseas.