United Kingdom car production for January fell 58.7% against the same month the previous year, latest figures show. A total of 61,404 cars were manufactured in January 2009, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said today: "Following extended winter shutdowns, vehicle output continued to fall in January in line with expectations. "The extent of the decline highlights the critical need for further Government action to deliver the measures already announced and ease access to finance and credit." The figures follow a sharp downturn in production in recent months. Healthy figures for the first few months of last year meant car production for the whole of 2008 only fell 5.7% compared with 2007, while commercial vehicle (CV) production was down 5.9%. However, December 2008 car production fell 47.5% compared with December 2007, while CV production decreased 56.7%. Earlier in the month the joint leaders of the Unite union warned the Government they feared the closure of a car factory was "imminent" as they held private talks with Chancellor Alistair Darling to call for more financial support for the industry. Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson warned Mr Darling manufacturing would not recover from the recession unless "urgent assistance" was given. Many UK plants extended their normal Christmas and New Year shutdowns in 2008/09 and in recent weeks there have been a series of announcements of job losses and production cutbacks. The figures were released as embattled Swedish carmaker Saab, which has 97 dealerships in the UK, applied for legal protection as it seeks independence from ailing owner General Motors.