Car production in the UK fell significantly in November, down 16.5% (compared with November 2018) with 107,753 units manufactured, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Trends seen throughout the year — including soft consumer and business confidence, weak demand in overseas markets and model production changes — combined to impact output in the month.
An additional factor in the poor performance in November was the factory shutdowns around Halloween — planned closures to mitigate any disruption arising from the potential departure of the UK from the EU ‘without a deal’ on
These stoppages were in addition to those in April, when car production fell by 44.5%, and they added to the list of costly Brexit contingency measures implemented by the automotive sector — “a bill that stands at more than £500 million”.
In November, output for the home and overseas markets fell by 26.6% and 14.2% respectively; UK car production has now fallen in 17 of the last 18 months.
In the first 11 months of 2019, volumes were down 14.5% to 1,231,679 units, with 80.8% of these heading abroad and 54.7% into the EU — still by far the largest customer of ‘UK Automotive’.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive (www.smmt.co.uk
), said: “UK car production is export-led, so we look forward to working with the new government to deliver an ambitious trade deal with the EU.
"To ensure our competitiveness at a time of dramatic technological change, that deal needs to be tariff-free and avoid barriers to trade, which — for automotive — means that our standards must be aligned.”
Meanwhile, UK engine manufacturing fell by 13.9% in November (compared with November 2018), following planned ‘no deal’ Brexit shutdowns.
Production in the first 11 months of 2019 was 2.4 million units — down 7.9% on the first 11 months of 2018. More than six out of 10 UK-built engines were shipped overseas.
Bucking the trend, UK commercial-vehicle (CV) production increased by 9.8% in November, with 8,768 units manufactured.
Output for overseas markets was up 43.5%, but production for the domestic market fell again, down 21.7% as business confidence remained weak.
Output in the first 11 months of 2019 was down 9.3% to 70,918 units, with exports having fallen by 11.5%.
Mr Hawes said: “It has been a turbulent year in the commercial-vehicle sector, with political and economic uncertainty contributing to a drop in demand, especially from UK fleets.
"Operators need stability and confidence to invest, so industry looks forward to working with the new government to help deliver an ambitious EU trade deal that is tariff-free, avoids barriers to trade and includes regulatory alignment.”