UK car production fell 47.5 per cent in December with total output for 2008 down 5.7 per cent, according to latest figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Commercial vehicle production took the biggest hit after December production fell 56.7 per cent to 6,290 vehicles, while the total for the year was down by 5.9 per cent to 202,896 vehicles.
Paul Everitt, chief executive of the SMMT, said: ‘UK vehicle production figures for 2008 demonstrate both the strength of the sector and the very dramatic fall in demand in the last quarter.’
The sharp drop in December output reflected the closure of plants over the Christmas period, with Aston Martin, Bentley, GM Motors, Honda and Mini among the manufacturers who extended their Christmas shutdown.
The collapse in global sales has hit the industry hard and the SMMT’s announcement has placed additional pressure on the government to bring in measures that will help the troubled automotive industry recover from the economic downturn.
Everitt added: ‘The SMMT has been in close discussion with the UK government on the urgent need to improve access to credit and kick-start demand in the market, in order to sustain valuable industrial capability during this exceptionally difficult period.
‘The SMMT is looking forward to meeting with Lord Mandelson before the end of January to receive the government’s response to the proposals we submitted at our November meeting.’
Honda recently announced that it would extend its freeze on production at its Swindon plant for a further two months, on top of its planned closure in February and March.
With major manufacturers such as Nissan announcing a cut of 1,200 staff in Sunderland and Jaguar Land Rover planning to scale back production in the coming months, the SMMT believes that further declines are inevitable.