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January car production figures reinforce increasing reliance on exports

Rising demand for new car exports helped offset a continued decline in production for UK buyers in January.

Exports were up 1.5% in January, helping to offset a decline in domestic demand.

Exports were up 1.5% in January, helping to offset a decline in domestic demand.

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a total of 147,481 cars rolled off production lines last month – down just 0.05% or 72 units year on year.

Export growth helped drive overall output, with a record 119,252 British-built cars shipped overseas – up 1.5%.

In contrast, production for UK buyers declined for the sixth consecutive month, down 6.0% to 28,229.

Outlining how a seamless relationship between the UK and Europe must be maintained post-Brexit, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “While it is good to see global appetite for British-built cars reach record levels in January, this only reinforces the industry’s increasing reliance on overseas demand. Future growth will therefore depend on maintaining our current open trade links not just with Europe but with key international markets.”

His comments were echoed by Justin Benson, head of automotive at KPMG in the UK, who said: “Given these numbers you can’t underestimate the importance to our industry that details of a post-Brexit transition and trade deal are agreed with the EU as soon as possible, or preferably, now.”

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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.