London – UK car manufacturing output fell by almost 50% in April, marking the 11th consecutive month of decline in automotive production in the country.
Just under 71,000 cars rolled off production lines during April, down 44.5% compared to the year before, figures issued 30 May by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show.
The UK association attributed the decline to large-scale factory shutdowns, which are normally scheduled for the summer holiday but were brought forward and extended due to Brexit.
“The shift in shutdown, which cannot now be repeated for a 31 October deadline, was part of a raft of costly and ongoing contingency measures,” explained SMMT.
Over a 12-month period, production fell 22.4% to 441,000 units, due largely to slowing demand in key international markets, including the EU, China and the US, as well as the UK itself.
If the UK leaves the EU with a “favourable deal and substantial transition period”, and without an escalation of global trade tensions, SMMT expects the decline in volumes to ease by the yearend.
“Today’s figures are evidence of the vast cost and upheaval Brexit uncertainty has already wrought on UK automotive manufacturing businesses and workers,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.
The prolonged instability, he said, has done “untold damage”, with the fear of ‘no deal’ Brexit holding back progress.
For the industry to “get back to business”, Hawes called for the ‘no deal’ option to be “taken off the table immediately and permanently.”
The UK was expected to withdraw from the European Union 29 Mar, but the departure date has now been extended to 31 Oct.
Image source: SMMT