UK new car industry on “red alert” amid no deal fears

Inward investment down almost half on 2017 as industry fears UK’s future trading prospects, trade body reports

UK new car industry on “red alert” amid no deal fears

UK automotive companies are this week urging politicians to do whatever it takes to avoid a no deal Brexit as latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show British car production fell to its lowest level for five years in 2018.

Figures show that inward investment in the sector plummeted in the year – down almost half on 2017 to just £588.6 million, amid fears over the UK’s future trading prospects with the EU and other key global markets after 29 March.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With fewer than 60 days before we leave the EU and the risk of crashing out without a deal looking increasingly real, UK Automotive is on red alert.

“Brexit uncertainty has already done enormous damage to output, investment and jobs.

“Yet this is nothing compared with the permanent devastation caused by severing our frictionless trade links overnight, not just with the EU but with the many other global markets with which we currently trade freely.

“Given the global headwinds, the challenges to the sector are immense.

“Brexit is the clear and present danger and, with thousands of jobs on the line, we urge all parties to do whatever it takes to save us from ‘no deal’.”

“Clear and present danger”

In 2018, production for the UK fell -16.3 per cent as regulatory changes and ongoing uncertainty over future diesel policy and taxation were exacerbated by declining consumer and business confidence.

Exports were also down, with output for overseas markets dropping -7.3 per cent as slowdowns in important European and Asian markets took effect.

UK car exports to China slumped -24.5 per cent, while EU demand fell by -9.6 per cent, less steep than the decline at home, with registrations of British-built cars in the UK down -20.9 per cent in the year.

Overall, EU27 countries still accounted for the vast majority of UK exports, amounting to 650,628 cars.

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