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UK car production at highest level for 17 years

Car production reached a 17-year high in 2016 but future growth could be damaged by rushed post-Brexit trade deals.

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2016 UK vehicle production was at its highest output since 1999.

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a total of 1,722,698 vehicles rolled off production lines last year from some 15 manufacturers an 8.5% uplift on total production in 2015 and the highest output since 1999.

Jaguar Land Rover retained its position as the largest automotive manufacturer in Britain, with a total of 544,401 cars produced in 2016 – up 8% on the previous year.

Growth was predominantly driven by overseas demand, with global appetite for British-built cars up by 10.3% to an all-time high of 1,354,216 a second consecutive annual record. Around eight out of every 10 cars manufactured in the UK is now exported to one of 160 markets worldwide.

However, Europe remains the single biggest trading partner. Exports to the rest of the EU grew 7.5% to 758,680 and accounted for more than half of all UK car exports

Although the SMMT has not commented on the Prime Ministers speech last week that the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market, the organisation has previously warned of the impact of EU tariffs on cars, which it says could add at least an annual £2.7bn to imports and £1.8bn to exports.

Hawes added: We want trade deals but they must be the right deals, not rushed deals. Failure to do so could damage UK automotive manufacturing beyond repair.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 14 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie works across the magazine portfolio and updates the company websites with daily news, interviews and road test content.