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UK car production down 31% in 2020 following November drop

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that UK car manufacturing output is now down 31% year-on-year.

Output dropped 1.4% in November alone, with 106,243 units leaving UK factories. The SMMT said that although this is a “better performance” than previous months this year, it compares to November 2019, when many factories were shut in anticipation of a potential no-deal Brexit. 

Factors contributing to the ongoing decline, said the organisation, include the national lockdown that was imposed for much of the month and the “subsequent economic and political turbulence” that arose from that. 

Some 85.3% of cars were destined for overseas markets, with export volumes recording a slight (0.3%) boost in November, which the SMMT said highlights “the critical importance of free and fair trade with global markets to UK car makers”.

Year-to-date, UK car production is now down 380,809 units compared to 2019, representing a loss of £10.5bn to the sector. According to the SMMT, the UK is on course to produce less than one million cars this year for only the second time since the early 1980s.

The figures come just days ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union. If the UK is unable to secure a trading deal and is forced to trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, the sector stands to lose £55.4bn over the next five years, according to the SMMT. 

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes repeated his call for the UK to secure a trade deal ahead of its departure from the EU: “Yet another decline for UK car production is of course concerning, but not nearly as concerning as the New Year nightmare facing the automotive industry if we do not get a Brexit deal that works for the sector.

“With just nine days to go, the threat of ‘no deal’ is palpable and the sector, now also reeling from the latest coronavirus resurgence, Tier 4 showroom lockdowns and disruption at critical UK ports, needs more than ever the tariff free trading arrangements on which our competitiveness is founded.”

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