Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Britain’s car makers warn ‘wake up call’ needed with survival at stake

Brexit uncertainty has cost jobs and 'damaged' Britain's global reputation, car makers say

A Rolls Royce car with an EU flag attached to it is seen on a street in London, Britain, March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A Rolls Royce car with an EU flag attached to it is seen on a street in London, Britain, March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Britain’s car manufacturers have called for an urgent realisation that industry would suffer an “irreversible impact” of a no deal Brexit, after new figures released on Thursday showed the UK’s car production hit a six-year low.

British car manufacturing output fell for nine consecutive months, although overseas demand still accounts for nearly eight in 10 cars produced in the UK.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), representing the UK car industry, said the country’s reliance on exports to the European Union “underlines the importance of securing a truly free and frictionless future trading relationship with our most important trading partner”.

The industry body has long opposed Brexit and has repeatedly warned about the impact of uncertainty on jobs and investment.

On Thursday, it delivered its gravest warning yet.

“The ninth months of decline for UK car production should be a wakeup call for anyone who thinks this industry, already challenged by international trade hostilities, declining markets and technological disruption, could survive a ‘no deal’ Brexit without serious damage. A managed no deal is a fantasy,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

“Uncertainty has already paralysed investment, cost jobs and damaged our global reputation. Business anxiety has now reached fever pitch and we desperately need parliament to come together to restore stability so that we can start to rebuild investor confidence and get back to the business of delivering for the economy.”

The car industry also blamed declining demand from China, which slashed by more than half, in February 2019 compared to 12 months previous.

A number of major car makers have cut thousands of jobs or decided to stop investment in the UK.

Japanese car maker Honda announced in February that it would close a car factory in Swindon, while Jaguar Land Rover is expected to see the bulk of 4,500 jobs slashed worldwide to take place in the UK.

Updated: March 28, 2019 02:37 PM

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