Currently reading: UK car manufacturing output drops for 12th consecutive month
Latest SMMT figures show that the UK produced over 21,000 less cars in May than in April

UK car production fell for a 12th consecutive month in May, with industry bosses blaming a 15.5% year-on-year decline on the continued impact of earlier UK factory shutdowns, along with falling global and domestic demand.

A total of 116,035 cars were produced in the UK last month, 21,239 fewer than the same month in 2018, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Production of domestic models fell by 25.9%, while 12.6% less cars were built to be shipped overseas. 

Manufacturing for export still accounted for 80.9% of all cars made, which the SMMT says reinforces its claim that maintaining a frictionless border crossing post-Brexit is crucial to the preservation of the UK’s manufacturing industry.

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This week, the SMMT has called for the next prime minister to ensure the UK does not leave the EU without a deal. It claims that delays caused by increased security checks at border crossings could incur financial penalties of up to £50,000 per minute for the automotive industry. 

Overall, 116,035 new cars were built in the UK in May, a 15.5% decline compared to the same period in 2018, when 137,274 units were sent to dealerships. Year-to-date, the UK has produced 557,295 cars, 21% less than the 705,774 that had been produced by this point last year. 

The main reason for the shortfall, claims the SMMT, is the decision by companies including Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce to close their factories temporarily in April amid widespread confusion over Britain’s date of departure from the EU. 

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Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “12 consecutive months of decline for UK car manufacturing is a serious concern and underlines yet again the importance of securing a Brexit deal quickly.”

“The ongoing political instability and uncertainty over our future overseas trade relationships, most notably with Europe, is not helping and, whilst the industry’s fundamentals remain strong, a brighter future is only possible if we secure a deal that can help us regain our reputation as an attractive location for automotive investment,” he added. 

Read more

Brexit shutdowns cause UK car production slump in April​

SMMT urges next PM to seek automotive-focused Brexit deal​

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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chris1969 27 June 2019


It would be interesting to know what % of exports go to European countries. 

The biggest fall is domestic and that hasn't been affected by Brexit, more European policy on diesel and low confidence on what trick the government will pull next.

If Brexit wasn't on the horizon, I still believe the figures would have been the same, they would have had to find something else to blame.

gavsmit 27 June 2019

Cars are too expensive now

With small cars like Fiestas costing over £20,000 now, and that's not even considering the sports models, no wonder less cars are being sold (BREXIT has been used by manufacturers as an excuse to raise prices further as well).

Who wants to 'invest' that much money in something that drops dramatically in value straight away, and won't remain in good condition for very long thanks to all the selfish / inconsiderate bad drivers and vandals about?

It's about time a car publication did an article on how much car prices have risen in recent years - it's far greater than the rate of inflation and isn't just because of more safety kit and in-car tech (that some people don't want anyway).


scotty5 27 June 2019

Economical with the facts?

They didn't shut down because of a possible Brexit, they simply brought forward their already planned shutdowns. i.e. those shutdowns make no difference to output.

That shouldn't need to be said, it should be part of the above report. I can only assume it convenient to leave certain facts out otherwise the SMMT could be made to look foolish, and we could never have that.


Boris9119 27 June 2019

Well Said

Well said scotty5, you highlight 'an inconvenient truth.