British car production declined by 18.2% in the first month of 2019, sparked by a significant fall in demand from China and Europe.
According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Britain produced 120,649 cars in January, 26,858 fewer than in the same month of 2018. It is the eighth consecutive month in which production has declined in the UK.
While the number of cars manufactured for the domestic market fell by 4.8%, the bulk of the decline came from the export market, which fell by 21.4%. Demand for British-built cars in China declined by 72.3%, with exports to the 27 other European Union member states down 20%.
The news is another blow for the UK car industry, following Jaguar Land Rover’s recent losses – which it attributed in part to its struggles in China – and Honda’s recent decision to close its Swindon factory.
SMMT boss Mike Hawes said that the industry faces “myriad challenges”, including falling demand and the threat of a trade war. But he added the “clear and present danger” remains the continued risk of a no-deal Brexit. He said preparing for that prospect was “monopolising time and resources, undermining competitiveness”.
He added: “Every day a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility is another day automotive companies pay the price in additional and potentially pointless costs.”