SMMT figures reveal 60 per cent year-on-year drop for January
20 February 2009

Car production in the UK fell by nearly 60 per cent last month compared with January 2008, and the number of new cars sold in Britain dropped by 30.9 per cent, continuing the car industry’s downward spiral.

Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 61,404 cars were built in January, down from last January’s 148,644, although that’s an increase of 7581 units over December’s figure of 53,823 cars.

The majority of January’s UK-built cars were exported; 51,272 went abroad, more than 80 per cent of total production.

Sales also continue to drop compared with last January although, again, they are up compared with December. Last month 112,087 new cars left UK showrooms, 3396 more than December’s 108,691.

The SMMT predicts that the new car market will drop by a fifth this year, to an overall total of 1.72 million units. Its chief executive, Paul Everitt, has once again called for government help for the industry.

“The extent of the decline highlights the critical need for further government action to deliver the measures already announced and ease access to finance and credit,” he said.

“The proportion of cars exported peaked in January, evidence of the resilience of UK automotive manufacturing. European markets have been lifted by scrappage incentive schemes and the SMMT continues its call for a UK plan to boost the new vehicle market and support employment throughout the sector. The motor industry reiterates its request for an urgent government response.”

Dan Stevens

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