Factory shutdowns designed to cope with disruption from a 29 March Brexit, slashed UK car production in April by almost a half

03 Jun 2019

Published in: Black Country Chamber of Commerce News

Chamber Policy Officer comments on the latest announcement in the automotive sector.

Even though Brexit is delayed the factories still closed and production fell 44.5% according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In what it called "an extraordinary month", the SMMT said only 70,971 cars rolled off production lines.

That was 56,999 fewer than in April a year ago. Production for both home and overseas markets fell by 43.7% and 44.7% respectively.

The SMMT said car firms had brought forward their annual stoppages normally scheduled for the summer holidays. The shutting of factories was part of a raft of costly measures, including stockpiling, training for new customs procedures and rerouting of logistics.

It said the factories would not be able to repeat the process for the new 31 October Brexit deadline set by the European Union.

Black Country Chamber of Commerce Policy Officer, Dan Turner said, “The Black Country and wider West Midlands is a genuine automotive hub. A sudden and severe drop in car production is a real threat to our region and the UK car industry as a whole. This is evidence, as if any were needed, of the practical damage being caused by continued Brexit uncertainty.

“The car industry has warned of the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit numerous times now and is also facing a range of non-Brexit related issues including environmental challenges and a fall in diesel sales.

“We will continue to ensure that the voice of the Black Country automotive industry is heard loudly and clearly on a local, regional and national level. Brexit is casting a shadow over the UK economy and it is imperative that the government acts now, to end the uncertainty.”

Today's figures are evidence of the vast cost and upheaval Brexit uncertainty has already wrought on UK automotive manufacturing businesses and workers.

Prolonged instability has done untold damage, with the fear of 'no deal' holding back progress, causing investment to stall, jobs to be lost and undermining our global reputation”.

Global slowdown

The stoppages in the factories have exacerbated a continuing slow-down in the global car industry caused by the trade tensions between the US and China, uncertainties over the arrival of electric and self-driving cars, and tougher environmental controls after the VW emissions scandal.

April was the 11th consecutive month of output falls in the UK. In the year to date, 127,240 fewer cars have been built compared with the same period in 2018 - a decline of more than a fifth. The SMMT estimated production for the whole of 2019 would be about 10% down on last year.

It said the market might pick up by the end of the year if there was a favourable deal between the UK and the EU and a substantial transition period to adapt to trading outside the single market.

But it said a no-deal Brexit would make the declines worse with the threat of border delays, production stoppages and additional costs.

This is why 'no deal' must be taken off the table immediately and permanently, so industry can get back to the business of delivering for the economy and keeping the UK at the forefront of the global technology race. 

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