The UK car industry faces “the greatest challenge of our time”, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes, referring to ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and the anti-diesel rhetoric in the UK.
“[Brexit] comes at a time when the global car industry faces so many challenges. Our global competitors are focusing on electric and autonomous vehicles when, in the UK, we’re focusing on Brexit and air quality,” said Hawes.
Figures from industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), show that 1,671,166 cars were built in the UK in 2017, down from 1,722,698 in 2016. That represents a fall of 3.0% compared to 2016 - the first decline in eight years - but still remains the second biggest year for production since the turn of the century.
The downturn in production is largely attributed to poor domestic demand thanks to “declining business and economic confidence and confusion over government’s policy on diesel”, said the SMMT.
Jaguar Land Rover retains top spot
Jaguar Land Rover remains the biggest manufacturer of British-built cars for the third consecutive year, despite being down 2.3% year-on year and despite recently confirming it is cutting shifts at its Halewood plant due to concerns over Brexit and diesel demonisation. It made 532,107 vehicles last year across its Birmingham and Liverpool sites, led by the Range Rover Sport and Jaguar F-Pace.
Honda had its most successful year, thanks to its new Civic, with production up 22.4% to 164,160 units. Worst hit was Vauxhall, whose production was down 22% to 92,164 cars. Toyota also dropped 20% to 144,077 units built.
The top ten cars sold worldwide and built in Britain were, in descending order, the Nissan Qashqai, Mini hatchback, Honda Civic, Toyota Auris, Vauxhall Astra, Nissan Juke, Range Rover Sport, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Of the overall 1.67m vehicles, 1.34m were sold outside the UK. Car exports were down 1.1%, only a slight decline when compared to cars built for the UK market, which dropped 9.8%.
This reflects the decline in UK car sales, which fell 5.7% in 2017, a result also blamed on falling consumer confidence, concerns over diesel and worsening exchange rates.