The UK car industry has reported its biggest monthly fall in domestic demand for over six years, with the Government squarely in the firing line.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), as it has done in previous months, partly attributed the production decline on uncertainty following the Brexit vote.
It reported a 28% fall in the number of cars produced for the UK market in November compared to the same month in 2016.
While it said the figure represented the biggest drop in domestic demand since September 2011, it pointed out that it left production for UK consumers 9% down in the year to date.
There was an annual fall just shy of 30% in 2011.
Image: Toyota makes the Auris at its plant in Derbyshire
The SMMT said 161,490 cars left British factories last month, down by 4.6%.
But it added that a 1.3% increase in exports helped cushion the overall decline, as the global economy continues to accelerate at a faster rate than its home market.
The SMMT has been one of the most vocal critics of the Brexit vote – demanding tariff-free access to its biggest market after the UK’s divorce from the EU.
Domestic sales – as well as production – have taken a hit this year as consumers become more cautious about splashing out on so-called “big ticket” items.
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The car industry feels hard done by as it demands information on the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU – with the Government signalling its intention to ban the sale of new all-petrol and diesel models from 2040.
It also made diesels a tax target in last month’s Budget.
SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Brexit uncertainty, coupled with confusion over diesel taxation and air quality plans, continues to impact domestic demand for new cars and, with it, production output.
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“Whilst it is good to see exports grow in November, this only reinforces how overseas demand remains the driving force for UK car manufacturing.
“Clarity on the nature of our future overseas trading relationships, including details on transition arrangements with the EU, is vital for future growth and success.”