UK car production halves

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Words: NZ Autocar
2 Aug 2020

Car production levels in the UK have fallen to the lowest levels since 1954, with just 56,594 units produced in the first half of the year.

As a result the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has warned that there could be more job losses amongst the automotive industry’s estimated 820,000 workers.

The society believes that already more than 11,000 jobs have been lost in the automotive sector, following cut-backs at Aston Martin, Bentley, McLaren and Nissan, not to mention retailers. But worse may be yet to come, when the Government’s subsidy scheme is set to end.

Society chief, Mike Hawes, commented “Recovery is difficult for all companies, but the automotive sector is unique in facing immense technological shifts, business uncertainty and a fundamental change to trading conditions while dealing with coronavirus.”

Almost 300,000 fewer cars have been made this year in the UK, the result of factory closures, the reduction in global demand for new cars, the reduced production capacity of reopened factories because of social distancing guidelines, and the need to sell existing stock before making more cars.

Hawes said that the total for the year is likely to slip under the one million mark, back to levels seen in the 1980s.

Typically most UK-produced cars are exported, mainly to the EU. But post-Brexit trading terms are not yet in place, so there is a need for clarity and a new free trade agreement if the industry is to be rejuvenated.

Without that, UK production levels might be stuck at under the one million mark for years to come, with a huge loss in revenue for the industry.

Hawes hinted that car makers and the Government may be able to implement an incentive scheme to stimulate the new car market and protect jobs if the situation gets any worse.

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