UK car output slumps nearly a third in 2020: industry

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 28 2021 09:40 AM

UK car output slumps nearly a third in 2020: industry 1
A worker is seen completing final checks on the production line at Nissan car plant in Sunderland, northern England. Nigel Roddis, Reuters/File

British car production plunged by nearly one-third last year, the weakest annual output since 1984 as a result of coronavirus fallout, industry data showed Thursday.

UK car manufacturing, which mostly serves foreign markets, slumped 29.3 percent to 920,928 vehicles compared with 2019, The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders said in a statement.

"These figures, the worst in a generation, reflect the devastating impact of the pandemic on UK automotive production, with Covid lockdowns depressing demand, shuttering plants and threatening lives and livelihoods," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. 

"The industry faces 2021 with more optimism, however, with a vaccine being rolled out and clarity on how we trade with Europe, which remains by far our biggest market."

Japanese carmaker Nissan last week committed to its future in Britain, home to the group's largest European factory, citing the country's Brexit trade deal with the European Union.

Britain's automotive sector, which sells more than 80 percent of its vehicles abroad, was a big winner from the EU trade agreement, which allows for tariff-free trade.

Despite the absence of tariffs, Britain's carmakers --- which include also Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover -- face delays with new paperwork and border controls.

Hawes said that the industry's immediate challenge was "to overcome the additional customs burdens and regain... global competitiveness while delivering zero-emission transport". 

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