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UK car production has worst September for 25 years

Car production in the UK during September dropped to its lowest level in 25 years, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Just 114,732 cars were turned out by UK factories last month, some 6000 (5.0%) less than in September 2019, as car firms continue to suffer the effects of Brexit-related uncertainty and the coronavirus pandemic.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “These figures are yet more grim reading for UK Automotive as coronavirus continues to wreak havoc both at home and in key overseas markets. With production already strained, the additional blow of [a ‘no deal’ Brexit] would be devastating for the sector, its workers and their families.”

The biggest impact has been felt in exports, which dropped 9.7% in the month. Just 87,533 models were bound for export, accounting for more than three-quarters of UK car production.

Exports to the US were hit particularly badly, dropping by 30.0%, while exports to China and the EU also declined, but by a smaller margin, falling by 1.2% and 3.3% respectively.

Although the numbers of cars produced for the UK market rose by 14.5%, or 3440 vehicles, this was not enough to make a dent in the overall figures. Nor was a 37% year-on-year increase in the production of battery-electric vehicles.

The latest figures mean that UK car production has dropped 35.9% behind 2019 levels for the year to date, with just 632,824 vehicles built.

The latest independent outlook predicts that factories will make fewer than 885,000 cars in 2020. If that turns out to be the case, it would be the first time the UK has failed to produce at least one million cars a year since 2009.

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