It appears that Brexit is starting to have some serious effects on UK manufacturing capabilities as manufacturers still await the final word. UK car production fell in September, with output down by 5%, to register the worst performance for that month in 25 years.
The figures came from a study published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). While this reflects overall figures, electric vehicle production has grown. In September, production of the latest battery-electric vehicles grew 37% year-on-year, with the overwhelming majority (76.6%) exported, many of which went to new owners in the EU.
Exports declined by 9.7% to a total of 87,533 units. This accounts for more than three-quarters of production. At the same time, the local picture was slightly different as output for the domestic market rose by 14.5%, although this is still only equivalent to just 3,440 vehicles.
The negative trend is not only due to the looming Brexit, or the Covid-19 that has seen an increase in zero-emission vehicles over polluting ones. The toll on the British automobile industry has gone on for some time: For the first nine months of 2020, UK car production dropped by 35.9% behind 2019 levels. This corresponds to a total of 632,824 vehicles built during the period. Forecasts for the year have factories looking at producing fewer than 885,000 cars by the end of the year.
Depending on how things go, this trend may go either way. Particularly a no-deal Brexit would hurt the industry, just as a 10% tariff would increase the cost of UK-made electric cars exported to the EU by an average £2,000 per vehicle, according to a study conducted by SMMT. This would then result in less investment from abroad in the burgeoning British EV industry, which could halt the electrification wave mid-crest, although, of course, 2020 may still have some surprises left in store for us.
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