LONDON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - British car production fell by
an annual 45% in August as the sector continues to suffer due to
the COVID-19 pandemic pushing down demand, an industry body said
British factories churned out 51,039 cars last month,
leaving output in the first eight months of the year down by
nearly 350,000 compared to the same period in 2019, the Society
of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
"Companies are bracing for a second wave with tighter social
and business restrictions making the industry’s attempts to
restart even more challenging," said SMMT Chief Executive Mike
August 2019 had been a stronger-than-normal month as some
carmakers did not undertake their annual summer shutdowns,
having brought them forward to prepare for the original Brexit
date at the end of March.
This year, output looks set to fall by around a third to
just under 885,000 vehicles, according to the SMMT.
The industry, Britain's biggest exporter of goods, is also
facing the challenge of tumbling demand for diesel models, of
electrifying model line-ups and handling potential disruption to
trade resulting from Brexit.
London and Brussels are trying to negotiate a free trade
deal to come into force in January as Britain leaves EU
mechanisms such as the single market and customs union.
"A ‘no deal’ scenario would be disastrous, with car volumes
potentially falling below 750,000 by 2025, hampering sector
efforts to drive investment into the new skills, facilities and
technologies that will be integral to delivering a zero-carbon
future," said Hawes.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison)