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How are Things Looking for the UK Car Manufacturing Industry?

With 2019 nearly upon us, it’s time to take stock of the year that’s just passed and look ahead to what’s coming up. From the demise of diesel to the dreaded ‘B’ word, there are plenty of issues at the forefront of the UK’s car industry. So, how are things shaping up as we mark the dawn of a new year? 

Brexit

As the furore over Britain’s deal to exit the EU continues to rumble on, it’s an unsteady time for a number of British businesses. The automotive industry is a major part of the UK economy, with an annual turnover in excess of £80 billion. It’s understandable that confidence is a little shaky as the country takes a step into the unknown, but large companies such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan continue to operate plants that employ thousands of people. 

Theresa May has recognised how important tariff-free borders and integrated supply chains are to the UK’s car industry, and the final Brexit deal will have a major bearing on things going forward. A bad deal or no deal could see some of those big beasts moving their plants to the continent to avoid high export costs, which would of course seriously harm production. Whether parliament allows such a thing to happen remains to be seen. 

Production

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK car manufacturing fell by 16.8% in September. That was a fourth successive month of decline. There is some mitigation in that a number of key models have reached the end of their production run, as well as the new emissions ratings that are coming in at the end of the year. However, it’s tough to deny that the uncertainty over Brexit is having an impact. Despite this, and being down for September, the UK’s engine output is still on track for a record year, so it’s not all doom and gloom. 

Who’s left?

From Jaguar to Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin, a number of iconic British brands are now owned by foreign companies. That doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned fair old Blighty though, with each of those three manufacturers continuing to produce cars in Britain. Bentley celebrates its centenary in January 2019, and they’ve just announced a new 207mph convertible that will be built on British shores. That shows a commitment to manufacturing in the UK - despite the potential perils of Brexit - which is set to continue next year. From the new fully electric MINI Hatch that’s set to be built in Oxford, to the Jaguar XF and new Land Rover Evoque, there are still plenty of big hitters staying put. 

Diesel demise

The global automotive industry is standing with its toes dangling over the edge of a revolution right now. Electric cars are becoming much more popular and widespread, and we can herald the arrival of some real game changers in 2019. From MINI to Audi and Mercedes, the choice of cleaner cars is going to be better than ever. The British public has fallen out of love with diesels thanks to the rigged emissions scandal and the revelation that certain cars might be a lot worse for the environment than we realised. Diesels certainly still have a role to play in the current market, but the drop in demand has had an effect on production in 2018 as people wait to see what lies ahead. 

What else can we look forward to in 2019?

In addition to a plethora of new electric cars, we can look ahead to even greater depth to autonomous driving in 2019. Models such as the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 are among the frontrunners when it comes to automated driving aids, and their influence will continue to trickle down into new models such as the Mercedes B-Class


If you’re looking to invest in a new or used car in 2019, get in touch with us today and see what we could do for you.