Britain’s car factories built 22,585 fewer vehicles in March compared to the same month in 2017, industry bosses dubbing the 13% slump as of “considerable concern.”
In total 147,471 cars were built in UK plants, almost 80% of which were for export. The export figure of 114,675 was down 12% while the home market slumped almost 18% with 32,796 vehicles made.
Over the first quarter of 2018 UK car production is down 6%, with export orders slipping 4% and those for the home market more than 14%.
As well as the slowing in the domestic market, blame for the decline is being put on fluctuations in global demand for new cars, and adverse weather in March that affected production at some factories.
According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), which compiles the production figures, Britain’s vehicle and component manufacturers are responsible for 13% of goods exports from the UK, and for every one pound generated by the industry, three pounds are delivered to the economy via adjacent sectors such as logistics, retail and finance. SMMT calculations put the total economic impact at £219 billion – 10% of UK GDP.
Industry chiefs are calling for more certainty on factors they see as hitting the market, including adverse publicity for diesel engines and Brexit fears, particularly the likelihood of leaving the European customs union and the extra costs such a move would put on exports.
“A double-digit decline in car manufacturing for both home and overseas markets is of considerable concern,” says SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
“Following recent announcements on jobs cutbacks in the sector, it’s vitally important that the industry and consumers receive greater certainty, both about future policies towards diesel and other low-emission technologies, and our post-Brexit trading relationships and customs arrangements.
“Maintaining free and frictionless trade is an absolute priority – it has been fundamental to our past success and is key to our future growth.”