U.K. Car Production Halts Slide -- Thanks to Brexit Confusion
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. car output snapped a downward spiral in August -- but only because factories continued production through the usual summer-maintenance shutdown after companies timed work to coincide with the original Brexit deadline of March 29.
Vehicle output rose 3.3% to 92,158 units, the first gain in 15 months, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders lobby group said in a statement Thursday. Year-to-date production is still down 17% or almost 180,000 units.
“While growth is always welcome, today’s figures mask the underlying downward trend and strengthening global headwinds facing the sector,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, citing international trade tensions, upheaval from the switch to electric cars and the threat of a “hammer blow” no-deal Brexit.
Companies including Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, Honda Motor Co. and BMW AG brought forward annual production stops to April to help cope with potential supply-chain disruption from a no-deal split between Britain and Europe. Their efforts proved to be in vain when the date of the breakup was changed to Oct. 31 after parliament failed to approve Brexit terms.
With fewer than six weeks to go before the revised exit deadline, the SMMT called on politicians to “redouble efforts” to secure an accord that maintains frictionless trade. The comments came after the group joined with more than 20 European trade organizations to warn that a no-deal schism exposing U.K. carmakers to World Trade Organization duties could drive up costs by 5.7 billion euros ($6.2 billion).
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