The scale of car production in the UK fell by 14.2 per cent last year to reach the lowest levels seen since 2010.
The figures come from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), whose chief executive Mike Hawes has described the slump in output among carmakers as being a matter of “grave concern”.
Manufacturing output within the auto sector has fallen in each of the last three years, with demand from within both the domestic UK market and overseas markets having declined over the course of 2019.
A total of 1.3 million cars were made in the UK last year, with around 81 per cent of them built to be sold overseas.
With the export market clearly so important to British carmakers, the SMMT is keen for the government to prioritise post-Brexit trade deals that work well for companies within the industry.
More specifically, the carmakers’ trade body has highlighted the importance of having a workable UK-EU free trade deal that doesn’t hinder car companies as they operate across Europe.
The SMMT has noted that a “vast majority” of cars exported from the UK are currently sold into the EU, with the associated manufacturing industry in Britain well-established as a very significant employer in regions across the country.
“Every country in the world wants a successful automotive sector as it is driver of trade, productivity and jobs,” said Mr Hawes from the SMMT.
“Given the uncertainty the sector has experienced, it is essential we re-establish our global competitiveness and that starts with an ambitious free trade agreement with Europe, one that guarantees all automotive products can be bought and sold without tariffs or additional burdens.
“This will boost manufacturing, avoid costly price rises and maintain choice for UK consumers. Negotiations will be challenging but all sides stand to gain and this sector is up for it.”
Beyond the EU, the largest markets for British-made cars are those in the US, which accounts for 18.9 per cent of export volumes, China, which accounts for 5.3 per cent, and Japan, which buys just over 3 per cent of cars produced in the UK.