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April boost for UK car manufacturing

UK car production rose 5.2% in April, driven by the launches of new models.

Production of new and updated models helped drive UK car manufacturing in April

Production of new and updated models helped drive UK car manufacturing in April

Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that a total of 127,952 vehicles rolled off British production lines last month, up on last April when Easter bank holiday timing impacted output. Growth, however, was also buoyed by production ramp up at several plants to deliver a number of key new and updated models.

Demand was up for both home and overseas markets, with exports accounting for 81.0% of total output.

However, year-to-date, overall output remains down by 3.9%, with a total of 568,378 cars leaving production lines in the first four months. Four-fifths of these were exported, as domestic demand fell 10.3% against a less substantial 2.2% decline in vehicles destined for global markets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While April’s growth isn’t altogether surprising given the significant decline in output this time last year, it is good to see earlier planned investment into new models delivering results. However, given such investment was made on the basis of the free and frictionless trade afforded by our EU membership, the ability of UK plants to attract the next wave of new models and drive future growth depends upon maintaining these competitive conditions after Brexit. That’s why it is critical that government acts to safeguard our participation in the EU customs union and single market.”

Justin Benson, head of automotive at KPMG, commented: “Focusing on overseas markets is key to the future vitality of the UK automotive sector. With 81% of UK cars produced for export, the UK punches above its weight in the global automotive market. But we mustn’t sleep walk into a crisis. With around 50% of those exports going to Europe, UK car manufacturers are desperate for rapid progress in the Brexit talks. For our exports and opportunities overseas to continue to thrive, the automotive sector needs certainty, as well as time to adapt. Trading with the EU will be different after March 2019 despite the ‘transition agreement’ so it’s critical that we see the new EU trading arrangements agreed this year.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.