UK car exports to India register fall, Tata’s Range Rover models hold on to popularity

Aditi Khanna

London, Jan 31 (PTI) The UK’s car exports to India registered a drop over the previous year, attributed to varying tastes in India, amid an overall fall in UK car exports.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) found that UK manufacturers sold only 744 units to India in 2019, down from 1,199 units in 2018 and 1,144 units in 2017.

“India is an important market; it is a rapidly growing country, with rapidly growing demand. But whether the UK meets the needs and tastes of the market is a different matter,” said SMMT CEO Mike Hawes.

In reference to the post-Brexit scenario of a new trade agreement between India and the UK, he added: “All the automotive industry would want is free and fair trade”.

As part of data released annually by the influential representative body for the British auto industry, Tata Motors owned Jaguar Land Rover held on to its popularity in the top 10 export models with Range Rover Sport at No 5 followed by Range Rover Evoque, Ranger Rover and Range Rover Velar making it to the tally led by Nissan Qashqai.

Overall, UK car production fell 14.2 per cent in 2019, a drop attributed to multiple factors, including weakened consumer and business confidence domestically, slower demand in key overseas markets, a number of significant model production changes and a shift from diesel across Europe.

Factory shutdowns timed to mitigate expected disruption arising from the missed Brexit deadlines of 29 March and October 31 also played a part over the previous year.

With the UK formally leaving the European Union (EU) this week, the SMMT is calling for an ambitious UK-EU free trade deal that drives competitiveness, growth and prosperity.

Although shipments to the 27 remaining EU countries fell, by -11.1 per cent, it stressed that the economic bloc remains the sector’s most important market with its share of exports rising by two percentage points to 54.8 per cent.

“Given the uncertainty the sector has experienced, it is essential we re-establish our global competitiveness and that starts with an ambitious free trade agreement with Europe, one that guarantees all automotive products can be bought and sold without tariffs or additional burdens,” said Hawes.

Trade with the UK’s next largest markets, the US (representing 18.9 per cent of export volumes), China (5.3 per cent) and Japan (3.2 per cent) also fell, with exports down 9.8 per cent, 26.4 per cent and 17.7 per cent respectively.

The UK’s renowned small volume car manufacturing sector, however, bucked the trend with growing demand for some brands boosting output by 16.2 per cent in the past year. PTI AK RUP RUP