Brexit fears as UK car production soars

Car Industry News
McLaren Automotive production line brexit

New figures show that car manufacturing in the UK soared by more than a quarter in May, just as the industry faces great uncertainty following the vote to leave the European Union (Brexit).

Workers in many of the UK’s automotive factories fear that their jobs could be at risk as global automotive manufacturers reassess their investments in Britain due to the possibility of facing tariffs to export product to Europe.

In total 150,802 cars were built in the UK in May, 26.4 per cent up on the same period in 2015. The rise was the largest since the 40.6 per cent gain seen in August 2015 and 2016 output is now running 13.6 per cent of the same period last year.

Of the cars made in May some 79.8 per cent were for export markets, which is stoking fears of contraction following the Brexit vote. Automotive manufacturers have already stated following the vote that Britain needs to remain a part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which allows tariff-free trade in both directions. However membership of the EAA also compels free movement of people, immigration considered the key element that led to the out campaign winning the referendum vote.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders that produced the figures, described May’s performance as another strong month for UK car manufacturing.

“For this success to continue, we need government to maintain economic stability and help deliver the wider benefits – including free access to our biggest market – which have helped make the sector so globally competitive,” Hawes emphasised.

Strong gains were also seen in commercial vehicle and engine manufacturing. CV production rose 13.8 per cent to 7,748 units, while engine production soared 14.6 per cent, with 218,674 made, as major investments made by manufacturers in the last year came fully on stream. More than half of the CVs and engines made were heading for export markets.

Andrew Charman

Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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