The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders announced that UK car manufacturing fell by more than 20% in the first half of 2019. June marked the thirteenth month of negative growth.
Six months’ production totalled 666,521 units compared with 834,573 in the same period 2018, a 20.1% reduction. Production for home consumption was down -16.4% to 133,203 units. Production for export fell -21.0% to 533,318.
UK engine manufacturing also fell, by -10.8% in the first half 2019, reflecting a -16.9% decline in home demand and -7.0% fall in international sales.
The SMMT says the decline in manufacturing was due largely to falling demand in key markets, including the UK, exacerbated by factory shutdowns pulled forward in anticipation of the March Brexit deadline.
Demand from the UK’s largest market, the European Union, fell -15.6% over the six months. The EU still accounted for 57% of all UK car exports. Sales to China were down -53.1%, to the United States -12.9%.
Meanwhile, says the SMMT, latest figures show inward investment into the sector effectively stopped in the first half of the year – newly committed investment was down more than 70% to £90 million. That contrasts with average annual investment at £2.7 billion over the previous seven years.
The SMMT welcomes the announcement by Jaguar Land Rover earlier this month but describes it as “something of an outlier as the vast majority of manufacturers have suspended plant and product spending in the UK amid ongoing uncertainty”.
The SMMT describes automotive manufacturing as one of the UK’s most important economic assets, delivering an annual £18.6 billion to the economy, supporting local communities and employing 168,000 people in high value jobs. Automotive remains the UK’s single biggest exporter of goods, trading with some 160 countries worldwide and accounting for more than 14% of total exports.