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UK car manufacturing industry feel slump

The UK’s car manufacturing output fell 29.3 per cent in 2020 to 920,928 units year-on-year, the lowest total since 1984, amid a double whammy of the Covid-19 pandemic disruption and the Brexit uncertainty, the country’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

“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,” Xinhua news agency quoted Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the SMMT, as saying in a statement on Thursday.

Production for overseas buyers fell 29.1 per cent last year to 749,038 units, while output for the domestic market was down 30.4 per cent to 171,890, the SMMT said in a report.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (C) and EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (L) attend a press conference on the post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong/ians)

Notably, shipments to the US, Japan and Australia all fell, down 33.7 per cent, 21.6 per cent and 21.8 per cent, respectively, while exports to China up 2.3 per cent, said the SMMT.

The European Union remained the UK’s biggest export destination, taking a 53.5 per cent share in 2020, despite volumes falling 30.8 per cent to 400,460 units.

The combined production of battery electric (BEV), plug-hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid vehicles (HEV) rose to 18.8 per cent of all cars made in the UK, up from 14.8 per cent a year before, said the SMMT.

Looking ahead, the trade association said much will “depend on the extent of Covid measures here and abroad and the speed with which showrooms can reopen”.

“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,” Hawes added.

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