Car production falls again as exports drop by a fifth

PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 February 2019 | UPDATED: 07:08 28 February 2019

Honda cars lined up at Southampton Docks prior to being loaded onto a car container ship for export. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA.

Honda cars lined up at Southampton Docks prior to being loaded onto a car container ship for export. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Car production has fallen for the eighth month in a row amid warnings that the sector faces a "clear and present danger" from Brexit.

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Around 120,600 cars left factories in January, down by 18.2% on the same month a year ago, a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals.

Exports slumped by 21.4% to 93,781 vehicles, collapsing by 72% in output destined for China and by 20% to EU countries.

Manufacturing for the UK market fell by 4.8%, with the SMMT saying political uncertainty continued to dent consumer confidence.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Another month of decline is a serious concern. The industry faces myriad challenges, from falling demand in key markets, to escalating global trade tensions and the need to stay at the forefront of future technology.

“But, the clear and present danger remains the threat of a no-deal Brexit, which is monopolising time and resources, undermining competitiveness.

“Every day a no-deal Brexit remains a possibility is another day automotive companies pay the price in additional and potentially pointless costs. No-deal must be taken off the table immediately and permanently.”

Almost a third of automotive companies responding to a recent SMMT survey said they had postponed or cancelled UK investment decisions because of Brexit, with one in five having already lost business as a direct consequence.

Around one in eight were relocating operations overseas and the same proportion cutting jobs.

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