Car manufacturing in the UK fell by 20.1% in the first six months of 2019, caused by downturns worldwide and April’s widespread factory shutdowns, which were pulled forward in anticipation of the March Brexit deadline.
By the end of the year, UK car making is expected to be down approximately 15% year-on-year, with 1.37m units set to be produced.
It has been a largely gloomy year so far for UK car manufacturing. Honda announced it will shut its Swindon plant in 2021, while Nissan pulled plans to make the next X-Trail in Sunderland.
But earlier this month, Jaguar Land Rover bucked the trend by announcing major investment in its Castle Bromwich plant. Mike Hawes, chief executive of Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, commented: “Jaguar Land Rover is an outlier and a rare piece of good news across the UK industry. It’s hugely welcome. But the underlying trend is not so good.”
The broader outlook for UK car manufacturing very much depends on the outcome of Brexit, says the SMMT. If there was a favourable Brexit deal and transition period, UK car production is expected to rise to 1.42 million by 2021.
But, say figures from data firm Auto Analysis, if we leave Europe with no deal and turn to WTO rules, output is forecast to fall around 30% on recent levels to 1.07 million units by 2021. If that were to happen, it would be the lowest production figures since the 1980s.
Hawes said: “Automotive manufacturing is one of the UK’s most important economic assets, delivering an annual £18.6 billion to the economy, supporting local communities and employing 168,000 people in high value jobs, with the average salary some 40% higher than the national average. Automotive remains the UK’s single biggest exporter of goods, trading with some 160 countries worldwide and accounting for more than 14% of total exports.