January UK new car exports rise even as production slips for fifth month

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 27 Feb 2020

Car production in UK dropped for the fifth consecutive month and factories turned out 118,314 units in January compared to 120,890 in the same period last year. The data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicates that car production, down 2.1% in January, has now fallen in 19 of the last 20 months.

Of the total new car production of 118,314 units, 82.7% were built for exports worldwide. This is higher that percentage contribution of exports in the same period last year. In January 2019, exports comprised 77% of overall production. Meanwhile overseas orders rose 4.1% to 97,870, boosted by rising demand for them in key European and Asian markets. However, this growth failed to offset a double-digit fall in production for the UK.

The rise in overseas demand was in contrast to a sharp drop in domestic production, which was down 23.9% to 20,444 units in light of “continuing weak confidence”, according to SMMT. This according to the organisation, was the driving factor behind last month being the worst January for UK car production in nine years. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Exports are the bedrock for UK car manufacturing so a rise in January exports is welcome following recent declining demand in overseas markets. These figures, however, still give great cause for concern, with another month of falling car production driven by a lack of confidence and corresponding weak demand in the UK. The upcoming Budget is an opportunity for the government to provide supportive measures to stimulate the market, but the biggest boost would be the agreement of an ambitious free trade deal with Europe. This would end the ongoing uncertainty and help the UK to recover its hard-won reputation as a great place for automotive investment.”