Exports to the rescue for UK car manufacturing

UP AND DOWN: October showed ninth decrease of UK sales Photo credit: Twitter

UK NEW car production increased in October, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 157,056 units left UK factories last month, a 3.5 per cent rise compared with the same period in 2016.

The growth was driven by exports, which rose 5.0 per cent in the month, boosted by demand for new models in overseas markets. 82.1 per cent of all UK-built cars were shipped abroad in October – the highest proportion this year – with the bulk going to our biggest trading partner, Europe.

Meanwhile, production for the UK continued to reverse, falling 2.9 per cent and making October the ninth month of decline at home this year. 28,178 cars were produced for domestic buyers, as lower business and consumer confidence, combined with confusion over government policies towards diesel, continued to dent orders. Year-to-date figures show production for the home market decreased by 6.8 per cent or almost 22,000 units. Exports have fared better, broadly stable so far in the year at 0.1 per cent, while overall output is down 1.6 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “It’s encouraging to see positive growth in exports this month and a slight increase in overall output. Production for British consumers, however, has continued to fall as domestic demand for new cars decreased for the ninth month this year amidst continued uncertainty over both Brexit and the government’s air quality plans. It’s important that confidence is restored to the new car market, as sales of the latest cleaner, greener cars not only address air quality concerns but speed up activity on factory lines across the UK. The latest independent UK forecast report is worrying news for the sector, predicting annual output which is, at best, static compared with last year. The industry needs stability and a clear roadmap for Brexit if we are to encourage investment and arrest the decline in both the market and business confidence.”

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