UK car production plummets by 45% in a year amid Brexit turmoil

The number of cars built in the UK dropped by 45 per cent in April compared with a year ago, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show.

Just under 71,000 cars rolled off production lines in the month, down by 44.5 per cent on April last year as factory shutdowns, rescheduled to mitigate against the expected uncertainty of Brexit at the end of March, took effect.

In the year to date, 127,240 fewer cars have been built compared with the same period in 2018 – a decline of more than a fifth.

Manufacturing for overseas markets fell by 44.7 per cent as most car-makers brought forward, and extended, production stoppages normally scheduled for the summer holiday period.

The SMMT said the shift in shutdown was part of a raft of “costly and ongoing” contingency measures, including stockpiling, training for new customs procedures and rerouting of logistics.

It marks an 11th straight month of decline.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Today’s figures are evidence of the vast cost and upheaval Brexit uncertainty has already wrought on UK automotive manufacturing businesses and workers.

“Prolonged instability has done untold damage, with the fear of no-deal holding back progress, causing investment to stall, jobs to be lost and undermining our global reputation.

“This is why no-deal must be taken off the table immediately and permanently, so industry can get back to the business of delivering for the economy and keeping the UK at the forefront of the global technology race.”

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