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No-deal Brexit threat halves UK automotive investment

UK automotive investment and production plummeted in 2018, hit by fears of a no-deal Brexit.

Nissan Qashqai production in Sunderland

UK car production in 2018 fell to a five-year low

Published as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) renews its calls for politicians to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the figures show that fresh inward investment in the UK automotive sector fell almost half (46.5%) in 2018 to just £588.6m, amid fears over the UK’s future trading prospects with the EU and other key global markets after 29 March.

Meanwhile, UK car production last year fell to a five-year low of 1.52 million units – down 9.1% compared to 2017 and marking the second consecutive annual fall as the sector faces multiple challenges. Output for the UK were down 16.3% with a 7.3% fall in production for export; currently eight in 10 cars are exported.

Warning yet again of the devastating impact that a no-deal Brexit will bring to the industry, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With fewer than 60 days before we leave the EU and the risk of crashing out without a deal looking increasingly real, UK Automotive is on red alert. Brexit uncertainty has already done enormous damage to output, investment and jobs. Yet this is nothing compared with the permanent devastation caused by severing our frictionless trade links overnight, not just with the EU but with the many other global markets with which we currently trade freely.

“Given the global headwinds, the challenges to the sector are immense. Brexit is the clear and present danger and, with thousands of jobs on the line, we urge all parties to do whatever it takes to save us from ‘no deal’.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.