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UK car exports to China fall by 72% in January | Business News

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UK car production’s troubles were compounded in January as the sector faced its eighth consecutive slump and exports to China plummeted by 72%.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a decline across both the domestic and international markets for British-made vehicles, as overall production fell by 18.2% year-on-year in the first month of 2019.

A total of 120,649 vehicles were produced in the UK during the month, down from the 147,507 made in the previous January, meaning that 26,858 fewer vehicles left British plants.

Total exports for the month fell 21.4% to to 93,781 vehicles.

While just over a quarter of the vehicles destined for China made the trip, exports to the European Union – the biggest market for British-made cars according to the SMMT – were down by 20%.

Up to 80% of all British-made vehicles are exported and more than half of car exports go to the EU – 54% according the industry body,

The Chinese market represents 7.5% of all output shipped overseas.

In addition to the global pressures facing the UK car industry, manufacturing for the domestic market fell by 4.8%, as political uncertainty continued to undermine consumer confidence.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes 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.”

The slump in January comes off the back of a drop in new car sales of nearly 7% last year marking the biggest annual drop since 2008.

The industry blamed that decline on a slump in the demand for diesel, stricter emissions rules, and falling consumer confidence ahead of Brexit.

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Several international car manufacturers with UK plants have recently announced plans to scale back production within the country.

GV Honda's Swindon plant
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Honda has said it will close its plant in Swindon with the loss of up to 3,500 jobs

Honda has said it will close its plant in Swindon, with the loss of up to 3,500 jobs, with another 10,000 jobs potentially under threat in the supply chain and support services.

Jaguar Land Rover is to cut 4,500 jobs in a bid to make savings of £2.5bn, and has felt the withering effects of a slowing Chinese market and a slump in demand for diesel cars.

While Ford has warned that it is preparing to move production out of the UK, and to consolidate its UK headquarters and Ford Credit Europe’s headquarters at its Dunton technical centre in South East Essex.

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