Output from British car factories dropped in February, coinciding with a fall in demand. The industry remains concerned over the impact of Brexit and any trade hurdles that may arise from the UK's forthcoming departure from the EU.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says UK car production fell by 4.4 per cent year-on-year to February, correlating with a continuing fall in demand: Year-on-year, UK car sales have fallen 17 per cent.
The SMMT said exports fell by 0.8%, a more modest yet still notable drop - particularly considering the UK car industry’s reliance on exports.
The trade body's chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “A final deal that keeps our frictionless trade links with our biggest market, the EU, after December 2020 is now a pressing priority.”
Hawes continued: “Another month of double digit decline in production for the UK is of considerable concern, but we hope that the degree of certainty provided by last week’s Brexit transition agreement will help stimulate business and consumer confidence over the coming months.”
There remains concern that a number of high profile automotive manufacturing projects are in jeopardy. BMW, which has been vocal about the potential negative impact of Brexit, may decide to make the next generation of Mini outside the UK, while Vauxhall - owned by US firm GM - may move production of the Astra to mainland Europe. Only the Astra is built at the Ellesmere Port factory, meaning thousands of jobs could be at risk.
However, big names like Honda, Nissan and Toyota have made clear their commitment to the continue manufacturing in the UK.