UK car manufacturing fell for the eighth consecutive month in March, driven by shrinking domestic demand amid continued economic uncertainty.
Car production output in the UK totalled 147,471 units, with the number destined for UK customers 17.7% down on March 2017’s figure.
Export demand fell by 11.9%, dwarfing the 0.8% decline seen in February as demand in several markets dropped.
The latest results mean output for the first quarter of 2018 fell 6.3% compared with the same period in 2017. In total, 440,426 cars left UK production lines, with almost 80% of these exported.
Exports for the first three months of the year were down 4% year on year, but this was dwarfed by the 14.1% decline in UK demand.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) CEO Mike Hawes said this continued decrease in output is of “considerable concern”, but that it also highlighted the importance of ensuring more certainty about post-Brexit trading relationships.
“Maintaining free and frictionless trade is an absolute priority – it has been fundamental to our past success and is key to our future growth,” he said.
Jaguar Land Rover has been the most active of Britain’s car makers in adapting to shrinking demand for new vehicles. It recently confirmed that 1000 agency staff members would not have their contracts renewed.
The recent stormy weather was also labelled by the SMMT as a factor in output reduction, although the UK industry’s decline is not expected to slow any time soon.
SMMT calculations show that the UK car industry represents 10% of the UK’s total gross domestic product. The organisation said that Britain’s vehicle and component manufacturers are responsible for 13% of the country’s exports.