Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that British car production dropped by 14.4% in March, representing the tenth monthly fall in a row. And a No-Deal Brexit could make things worse. Anna Tobin reports
The SMMT figures also showed that British car production for both home and overseas markets declined -18.1% and -13.4% respectively in March. A fall in demand from key Asian and European markets contributed to this, as did model changes and shifting car segment preferences globally.
UK exports fell in March, but they did increase their share of overall production year-on-year to 78.7%, which the SMMT says demonstrates the importance of free and frictionless trade to the industry.
The SMMT also pointed out that in the event of a No-Deal Brexit and a long-term reliance on World Trade Organisation rules, output is forecast to fall around 30% on recent levels to just 1.07 million units by 2021, a level consistent with the doldrums of the mid-1980s.
“Despite the extension, the Brexit clock is still ticking and a devastating ‘no deal’ remains a threat,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT. “This new period of limbo does not end the havoc for industry, with investment stopped and expensive factory shutdowns moved to avoid a Brexit deadline that has itself now moved. Just a few years ago, industry was on track to produce two million cars by 2020 – a target now impossible with Britain’s reputation as stable and attractive business environment undermined. All parties must find a compromise urgently so we can set about repairing the damage and diverting energy and investment to the technological challenges that will define the future of the global industry.”