UK car production rose by 3.3% year on year in August, but industry bosses have warned that the increase reflects changed production schedules rather than signs of a recovery.
In total, 92,158 cars were produced in the UK last month, compared with 89,255 last year – the first year-on-year production increase in 15 months, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
While that sounds positive, many car firms traditionally stage plant shutdowns during August, but a number of those were brought forward to April in anticipation of the UK’s originally planned exit from the European Union on 29 March.
Total car production for 2019 to date is 866,918, a decline of 17% on the same period last year. That's the biggest year-on-year fall since 2011.
Of the 92,158 cars built in August, 18,725 were for the UK market, an increase of 15.2% on August 2018, when volume was affected by the introduction of new EU emissions testing regulations.
Some 79.7% of cars built in the UK in August – 73,433 – were exported, with the EU accounting for 55.4% of them. That prompted SMMT boss Mike Hawes to reinforce warnings that a no-deal Brexit would cost the industry £70 million per day.
Hawes said growth is “always welcome” but he added that the figures “mask the underlying downward trend and strengthening global headwinds facing the sector, including international trade tensions, massive technological upheaval and, in the UK, political and economic uncertainty. Softening of global demand is compounding the challenge to UK manufacturers for whom a no-deal Brexit would be a hammer blow.”