The latest UK car manufacturing figures are “deeply depressing”, according to Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the automotive industry’s mouthpiece in the UK.
If that doesn’t give you a clue to the current sentiment, not much else will.
UK car sales fell 6.8% in 2018. UK car manufacturing, as we found out today, fell 9.1%. Lots of things are to blame: uncertainty over diesel policy in the UK and abroad, falling business and consumer confidence, regulatory changes, slumps in China and Europe.
But, of course, the looming issue of the 'B' word is not far away. The SMMT has lobbied so hard for a frictionless trade deal that it’s imprinted on my mind. The SMMT and its members are getting increasingly nervous about what’s going to happen.
Two-thirds of UK car exports go to Europe or countries with EU trade agreements, says the SMMT, adding that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could put this under threat.
Hawes says the industry is “increasingly nervous and exasperated” and claims that he’s not met a single person in the industry who has been pro-Brexit. When the referendum happened, 10% of SMMT members who responded to its survey said they were pro-Brexit.