UK car industry output holds steady thanks to “global appetite”

Posted on 28 Feb 2018 by Jonny Williamson

UK car manufacturing output held steady in January 2018, with just 72 fewer vehicles produced than in the same month last year. Export drove overall volumes, whereas the domestic demand declined, the SMMT has revealed.

UK car industry output held steady in January, with just 72 fewer vehicles produced than in the same month last year – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

According to a new SMMT report, UK car industry output in the month fell by a negligible -0.05% year on year, as 147,481 cars rolled off production lines – effectively maintaining the nine-year high set in January 2017.

Exports drove overall volumes, with output for overseas customers rising by 1.5% to a record 119,252 units. This was in line with continued recovery across EU markets and followed the launch of several key global models throughout 2017.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, 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. A transitional deal will be an important first step but, in the long term, a seamless relationship between the UK and Europe must be maintained.

“The EU remains the third largest new car market in the world and, given it is on our doorstep, it is not surprising it accounts for more than half of our global exports.”

Near 10% fall in domestic buyers due to Brexit?

According to the report, the growth offset a decline in production for the UK market, which fell for the sixth consecutive month, by -6.0% to 28,229, reflecting falling UK business and consumer confidence and confusion over government policies on diesel taxation and air quality plans. 

The UK car market has been declining steadily for a number of months, with consumer uncertainty amid ongoing Brexit negotiations and a sharp decline in diesel purchases blamed for the falling registration figures.

The Guardian recently reported that the number of cars rolled off UK production lines in 2017 was way below the industry’s forecast, “because of a near 10% fall in domestic buyers as cash-strapped households in Britain were increasingly reluctant to commit to major spending decisions.”

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