British car production fell by 9 percent last year – the most since the recession ten years ago.
Analysis by the SMMT suggests investment slumped by nearly half due to fears about Brexit, said the SMMT.
Volumes have also been hit by a crackdown on diesel, tougher emissions rules disrupting new vehicle supply and a slowdown in China, the world’s no. 1 autos market.
Last year saw the fall in investment to £589 million which is the lowest level since the SMMT started compiling figures in 2012.
“Brexit uncertainty has already done enormous damage to output, investment and jobs,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes, calling on the government to avoid a no-deal exit. “Yet this is nothing compared with the permanent devastation caused by severing our frictionless trade links overnight, not just with the EU but with the many other global markets with which we currently trade freely.”
Output is expected to fall another 3 percent in 2019, based on Britain leaving the EU with a deal followed by a transitional period.
It is also a time of decision making for PSA, with plants at Ellesmere Port and Luton, while Ineos has yet to decide on location of for its planned new Defender.
JLR is again idling its plants in April as it adjusts output after a collapse in China sales and its diesel car orders.
Seán Kemple, Director of Sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, added, “Brexit is continuing to damage output, sales and jobs in the UK automotive industry, a reality confirmed with latest SMMT manufacturing figures showing that investment in the British car industry dropped by almost half in 2018.
“Brexit is having an impact on consumer and dealer confidence, with 35% of dealers seeing it as the biggest threat to their business, according to our research. There is hope to be had, and dealers remain confident about the future of their businesses, but investment in this vital sector must remain a priority.”