Brexit has caused the number of cars built in the UK to plummet by 44.5 per cent in just one year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said.
Just under 71,000 cars left production lines in April 2019, due to factory shutdowns that were rescheduled to alleviate the uncertainty of Brexit, expected at the end of March.
Most car-makers brought forward, and extended, production stoppages normally scheduled for the summer holiday period.
This in turn caused manufacturing for domestic and overseas markets fell by 43.7 per cent and 44.7 per cent.
The rescheduled shutdowns were part of a series of ‘costly and ongoing’ contingency measures, including stockpiling and training for new customs procedures, the SMMT said.
April’s ‘dismal’ performance, the 11th straight month of decline, worsened the underlying downward trend.
This was due largely to slowing demand in key international markets – including the EU, China and the US, as well as at home.
In the year to date, 127,240 fewer cars have been built compared with the same period in 2018 – a decline of more than a fifth.
If the UK is able to leave the EU with a favourable deal and substantial transition period, the decline in production is expected to ease up by the end of the year, a report said.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘Prolonged instability has done untold damage, with the fear of no-deal holding back progress, causing investment to stall, jobs to be lost and undermining our global reputation.
‘This is why no-deal must be taken off the table immediately and permanently, so industry can get back to the business of delivering for the economy and keeping the UK at the forefront of the global technology race.’
Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow business secretary, said the ‘alarming’ statistics show what could come from the UK crashing out of the EU without a plan in place.
She said: ‘The industry needs certainty and the Government must work with trade unions to produce a long term strategy for the sector.’
A Business Department spokesman said: ‘A number of large automotive manufacturers did see planned production shutdowns during this period.
‘The Government wants to see the UK automotive sector continue to grow and attract further investment.’