Car production in factories is running at a seven-year low, down 17 per cent year on year, despite an uptick in output last month. Industry figures reported that output in August rose 3.3 per cent, up 92,000 from 89,000.
August is traditionally the slowest month for carmakers because of the planned summer shutdowns at manufacturers when maintenance work or upgrades are scheduled to coincide with production line workers’ holidays.
This summer’s data, however, has been significantly skewed by many manufacturers deciding to bring forward their annual summer shutdown to April this year to coincide with what was the planned schedule for Britain’s planned — but aborted — departure from the European Union on March 29.
With those factories in production this summer, a rise of a little more than 3 per cent does little to halt the output falls for the year.
In the first eight months of the year, the annual rate of car production has fallen from 1.04 million a year ago to 867,000. Cars bound for the export market, helping the UK’s balance of payments and accounting, traditionally, for about 80 per cent of production, have fallen by more than 18 per cent.
British plants had been building more than 1.7 million cars a year and were expected to surpass the 1.92 million of 1972, in the heyday of the industry before its sharp decline over the succeeding three decades.
The industry is dominated by Indian-owned Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan of Japan and German-owned Mini, which between them account for nearly 75 per cent of all production. The sector has been suffering from 6,000 redundancies at Jaguar Land Rover, the announcement of closures of Honda carmaking and Ford engine-making factories and fears for the future of Vauxhall at Ellesmere Port.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which collates the data, said: “Today’s figures mask the underlying downward trend.”