Declining car industry pleads: No deal Brexit would cause 'devastation'


The prolonged Brexit crisis is wreaking 'untold' damage on the UK car industry manufacturers have said, as April saw a huge fall in production - the 11th consecutive month of decline.

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 (-22.4%), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.


In April, production fell by almost half (44.5%) compared to the same month in 2018 as companies prepared for a Brexit that never came.

Large automotive firms like Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and Peugeot brought forward annual maintenance stoppages that usually take place in the summer.

In total 70,971 vehicles rolled off the production lines compared with 127,970 in the same month of last year.

This was part of 'a raft of costly and ongoing contingency measures, including stockpiling, rationalisation, training for new customs procedures and rerouting of logistics – all designed to try to protect business when the UK leaves the customs union and single market', the SMMT said.

The SMMT repeated call for urgent action to 'end Brexit deadlock and prevent ‘no deal’ devastation'.

The latest analysis suggests that even assuming 'a favourable Brexit deal and transition period maintaining the status quo' production is forecast to fall to 1.36 million units for 2019, down from 1.52 million units in 2018.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: '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.

'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.'

The industry had been steadily recovering since the financial crash but has now fallen to pre-2013 levels.

An Oxford University study released this year predicted the UK car industry could collapse by almost half by the mid-2020s in a no-deal Brexit scenario, resulting in thousands of job losses.

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus