UK car output down 1.4% for November, Brexit deal needed - SMMT

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LONDON, Dec 23 (Reuters) - British car production fell only slightly in November but output is down by almost a third so far in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and the approach of a possible Brexit shock at the end of this month, an industry body said.

Production fell year-on-year by 1.4% last month to 106,243 vehicles but the comparison was flattered by a weak November 2019 when some plants were closed due to Brexit concerns, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

Year-to-date production so far in 2020 was down 31%.

"Yet another decline for UK car production is of course concerning, but not nearly as concerning as the New Year nightmare facing the automotive industry if we do not get a Brexit deal that works for the sector," SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

Even if London and Brussels strike a trade deal to avoid trade tariffs before a Dec. 31 deadline, it is almost impossible for automotive businesses to be ready, the SMMT said.

Flexible rules-of-origin thresholds for hybrid vehicles and batteries, and a phase-in period to allow supply chains to adapt would be needed as part of any agreement, as well as a 12-month grace period for supplier declarations on both sides, it said. (Writing by William Schomberg; editing by William James)