UK Government Clings to EV Pledge in Car Slump

A dramatic Brexit inspired slump in UK car production has seen the government attempt to deflect criticism by restating its commitment to advancing EV technology.

While production figures for April saw a devastating 44.5% drop in vehicle production for April, the biggest since 2008’s global financial crisis, the BBC reported this glib statement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The Government wants to see the UK automotive sector continue to grow and attract further investment. Through our modern industrial strategy we continue to invest in the future of our automotive industry, including £1Bn ($1.26Bn) for research and development into cleaner vehicles, and the Faraday Battery Challenge to develop the next generation of car battery technologies in the UK.”

Yet the UK auto industry’s representative body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), was less than impressed with the government’s sanguine approach describing April as “an extraordinary month” with only 70,971 cars rolling off domestic production lines, some 56,999 fewer than in the same month a year before. It blamed the closure of factories in preparation for the expected departure from the European Union that did not happen at the end of March as planned. The SMMT same the same trick will not be able to be employed at the new deadline of October 31, 2019.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Today’s figures are evidence of the vast cost and upheaval Brexit uncertainty has already wrought on UK automotive manufacturing businesses and workers. Prolonged instability has done untold damage, with the fear of ‘no deal’ holding back progress, causing investment to stall, jobs to be lost and undermining our global reputation.”

He also warned that leaving the EU without a trade agreement will jeopardize the UK’s auto technology plans. Hawes said: “This is why ‘no deal’ must be taken off the table immediately and permanently, so industry can get back to the business of delivering for the economy and keeping the UK at the forefront of the global technology race.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_



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