LONDON (Reuters) - British car production fell by an annual 12.9 percent in August, the third consecutive drop in a row, due to model changeovers and preparations for new, tougher emissions rules, a car industry body said on Thursday.
Output stood at 89,254 units last month, driven down by a nearly 40 percent drop in production for domestic buyers compared with a 4 percent fall in exports, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
"The quieter summer months are often subject to fluctuations due to the variable timing and duration of annual maintenance and re-tooling shutdowns," said Chief Executive Mike Hawes.
"This instability was exacerbated in August, with the industry racing to recertify entire model ranges to meet tougher testing standards in force on September 1."
The tougher new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) became mandatory from the start of September, forcing certain carmakers to halt deliveries and change plans regarding some models that had yet to have re-certified for emissions.
The car industry is also concerned that any loss of free and unfettered trade after Britain's exit from the European Union next year could hit sales and output, especially if politicians fail to strike an agreement.
"With exports, the majority to the EU, continuing to drive demand, it underscores the importance of a Brexit agreement to safeguard this trade; for our sector, ‘no deal’ is not an option," said Hawes.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison)