U.K. Car Production Plunges in April as Brexit Shuts Factories

(Bloomberg) --

Production by automakers in the U.K. plummeted last month as factories were halted and shifts rescheduled to brace for the planned March 28 Brexit, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed.

A total of 70,971 vehicles were produced last month, 45% fewer than a year earlier. Manufacturing for domestic and overseas markets fell 44% and 45% respectively, as most major companies brought forward and extended production stoppages normally scheduled for the summer holidays, the trade body said in a statement.

Overall European car sales declined for an eighth straight month in April amid weak demand in the U.K., where Brexit uncertainty prompted consumers to hold off big-ticket purchases. Monthly deliveries dropped 1% to 1.22 million cars, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said earlier in May.

The U.K.’s departure from the European Union didn’t materialize in March, and what kind of divorce the country wants isn’t yet clear. Should the U.K. eventually leave the EU with a favorable deal and a substantial transition period, the slide is expected to be arrested by the end of the year, according to SMMT.

Production in the U.K. may fall about 11% this year from 2018, SMMT said, citing a projection by research firm AutoAnalysis.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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