13.7 percent fewer cars were built in Britain in June 2017 compared to a year ago, meaning the UK car industry has suffered its third consecutive month of decline. The latest figures mean 2.9 percent fewer cars have been built in Britain so far this year compared to 2016.
The falls are being led by a declining British car market: production of cars for the UK was down 15.9 percent last month, to just 29,631 cars. While production of cars for export fell 13.7 percent last month, exports so far this year are holding up better: they’re down just 2.9 percent, compared to a fall of 9.5 percent for UK cars.
It means exports of cars from the UK make up 78.9 percent of British production, the highest in five years. Most of them go to Europe.
More built in Britain news from Motoring Research:
- BMW announces plans to build electric Mini in the UK
- Sunderland safe: Nissan confirms car production will stay in UK
- MG is axing car production in the UK
Although the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) does expect things to pick up again later in the year, it is still worried that the UK’s Brexit plans remain unclear – threatening the future health of Britain’s car industry.
“Brexit uncertainty is not helping investment and growth is stalling,” warned SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “The government has been in ‘listening’ mode but now it must put on the table the concrete plans that will assure the future competitiveness of the sector.
“Investors need certainty so, at the very least, the UK must seek an interim deal which maintains single market and customs union membership until we have in place the complex new agreement sought with the EU.”
The SMMT has revised its production target for 2020: previously, it had predicted UK car production would top 2 million. Now, it has lowered the target slightly, to 1.993 million units. However, if a ‘cliff-edge’ Brexit, with no trade agreements and hard border customs checks, is imposed from April 2019, this could plummet to 1.7 million cars.
This would take production volumes back to 2016 levels.
At least things are more certain for 2017, added the SMMT. Later this year, new models will be introduced and production updates will kick in, which should see UK car factory output start to grow again. And, it adds, although output is still down 2.9 percent thus far this year, it’s still the second highest output in 12 years.
And in further good news, BMW confirmed this week that the new electric Mini Hatch will be built in Britain from 2019, bolstering the output of the firm’s Plant Oxford facility. Indeed, this may turn out to be a bigger boost for Britain, given the government’s new desire to outlaw regular petrol and diesel-engined cars by 2040…