UK car manufacturing down 44.6% in August

Published:  25 September, 2020

 UK car production was down 44.6% in August, as reduced demand for new cars resulting from Coronavirus fed back to production lines.

According to figures released today (Friday 25 September) by the SMMT, with just 51,039 cars rolled off the lines as efforts to ramp up production stalled amid the COVID-19 crisis. Weak demand in key overseas markets compounded the significant fall in output for UK buyers. The performance also reflects an unusually strong August in 2019, when some plants worked through the customary summer maintenance shutdown period, instead pausing in April to mitigate the then possible ‘no deal’ Brexit on 31 March.

 Production for UK buyers fell 58.3% in the month to just 7,795 units. Exports followed a similar pattern, declining by 41.1% with 43,244 vehicles produced. Almost 85% of all cars built in Britain in August were destined for overseas.   So far this year UK car production is down 40.2%, representing a loss of 348,821 units. Manufacturing output for the domestic market is down 46.0% in the first eight months, with exports falling 38.8%, but still taking majority of output.   SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “These are increasingly disturbing times for UK car makers and suppliers with the coronavirus crisis weighing heavily on the sector. Companies are bracing for a second wave with tighter social and business restrictions making the industry’s attempts to restart even more challenging.”

Commenting on the post-furlough government support measures announced yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mike observed: “The UK industry is fundamentally strong and agile, and the measures announced yesterday by the Chancellor are welcome and essential, although we await more details of how they will work for all businesses and crucially large manufacturers. Companies need to retain skilled jobs and maintain cashflow and we may need more support to boost business and consumer confidence later this year.”

Mike added: “With fewer than 100 days until the Brexit transition period ends, we need urgent agreement of an ambitious free trade deal with our largest market to avoid the second shock of crippling tariffs.”

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