Brexit Cliff That Wasn’t Slashes Car Output as Plants Stand Idle

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. car production slumped close to 17% last month as companies shuttered plants to cope with a Brexit deadline that never came.

Auto output declined at more than four times the pace of October as carmakers including Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota Motor Corp. idled assembly lines amid concern a no-deal split from the European Union would disrupt supply chains.

In the event, the Oct. 31 Brexit cliff was avoided as Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached a negotiated deal and won an election that means Britain is set to leave the bloc next month. A fresh deadline could weigh on automakers in 2020 after Johnson gave himself 12 months to secure a new trade accord.

Auto output has declined in 17 of the past 18 months, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said Friday, with the November decline following a near 45% slump in April, when companies ordered a more comprehensive shutdown to follow an earlier notional Brexit date.

Carmakers, which have spent more than 500 million pounds ($651 million) on Brexit contingencies, are seeking tariff-free trade and regulatory alignment with the EU as 55% of U.K.-made autos are exported there. That’s especially vital as the industry embraces autonomous and electric models, the SMMT said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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