The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has warned that the UK’s car industry could return to the ‘dark days’ of the mid-1980s as vehicle manufacture fell for the 10th consecutive month.
Figures released today by the SMMT show that the UK produced 126,195 cars in March – 14.4 per cent down on the figure posted in the same period last year.
Manufacturing for the home market dropped by 18 per cent, and by 13 per cent for overseas customers.
Independent forecasts predict that if the UK leaves the European Union with a favourable deal and transition period, UK car production could reach 1.36 million units in 2019 – down from 1.52 million in 2018.
The SMMT believes that UK production could then rise to 1.42 million by 2021.
However, if Britain were to crash out of the EU with a no-deal Brexit, production could fall by 30 per cent – compared to recent levels – and drop to just 1.07 million units by 2021, a level which the SMMT describes as ‘consistent with the dark days of the mid-1980s’.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Despite the extension, the Brexit clock is still ticking and a devastating ‘no deal’ remains a threat. This new period of limbo does not end the havoc for industry, with investment stopped and expensive factory shutdowns moved to avoid a Brexit deadline that has itself now moved.
“Just a few years ago, industry was on track to produce two million cars by 2020 – a target now impossible with Britain’s reputation as stable and attractive business environment undermined. All parties must find a compromise urgently so we can set about repairing the damage and diverting energy and investment to the technological challenges that will define the future of the global industry.”