Brexit chaos blamed for crash in auto production

Marco Green
May 30, 2019

Auto production plummeted last month as manufacturers shut down their factories to avoid Brexit disruption.

Just 70,971 vehicles were made in the United Kingdom in April, down 44.5 per cent on a year earlier, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Earlier this month Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said business investment was likely to continue to be weak, but that there should be an improvement - and reduced reliance on consumers - if Brexit took place smoothly.

Vehicle manufacturing has now declined.

Production has now been falling in Britain for 11 straight months.

Hawes said the figures were "evidence of the vast cost and upheaval Brexit uncertainty has already wrought on United Kingdom automotive manufacturing businesses and workers".

However, the 44.5% slump in April was much steeper than the 15% seen in February and the 13% reported in March, with the SMMT blaming Brexit contingency plans.

"The shift in shutdown, which can not be repeated for a 31 October deadline, was part of a raft of costly and ongoing contingency measures, including stockpiling, rationalisation, training for new customs procedures and rerouting of logistics", the SMMT said. It said the market might pick up by the end of the year if there was a favourable deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and a substantial transition period to adapt to trading outside the single market.

While UK manufacturing has been substantially down in 2019 - with a 22.4% year-on-year decline so far - the April figures were heightened by several vehicle firms, including Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, bringing forward production stoppages usually planned for the summer to guard against any delays caused by Britain leaving the European Union, which had been due to take place on 29 March.

Global trade tensions exacerbated the decline.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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