UK car production fell 16.5% year-on-year in November, for which the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has blamed weakened overseas demand and widespread factory closures. 

A total of 107,753 cars were built in the UK last month, compared with 129,030 in November 2018. The SMMT attributes the deficit to “soft consumer and business confidence, weak demand in overseas markets and model production changes”. 

The decline rounds off a turbulent year for the UK’s automotive sector; new car output has fallen consistently since January, except in September, when marginal growth was recorded. The number of new cars built in 2019 so far is 14.5% less than at the same point in 2018. 

November’s figures show the lasting effects of a number of pre-emptive factory shutdowns that took place at the end of October, when the UK had been scheduled to leave the European Union (EU). That was in addition to a number of previous shutdowns that took place in April for the same reason. 

Domestic demand for new cars fell by 26.6% in November, with export rates falling 14.2%. The SMMT notes that more than 80% of new cars built in the UK are shipped abroad, including 54.7% bound for the EU. 

Commenting on the latest figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes repeated his desire to see the Government reach a mutually beneficial trade deal with the EU.

He said: “UK car production is export-led, so we look forward to working with the new Government to deliver an ambitious trade deal with the EU. 

“To ensure our competitiveness at a time of dramatic technological change, that deal needs to be tariff-free and avoid barriers to trade – which, for automotive, means that our standards must be aligned. This can be achieved if Government and industry work in partnership to re-establish the UK as a great place to invest and ensure that automotive keeps delivering for Britain.”