New car production reverses but industry remains positive

Production of new cars in the UK fell by almost 10 per cent last month compared with a year ago, new figures showed today.

Almost 80% of cars made in the UK are exported. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) said 136,119 new cars were built in May, 9.7 per cent fewer than the same month in 2016 when output increased more than 26 per cent, the highest May total in more than a decade.

Car manufacturers are preparing to ramp up production of new models, said the SMMT, adding that exports continue to be the main driver of demand.

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More than 576,000 new cars have been shipped abroad since January, a 0.8 per cent increase year-on-year, although production for overseas markets fell 9 per cent in May.

Almost 80 per cent of all cars made in Britain are exported, with more than half going to Europe.

Production for the home market fell 12.8 per cent in May, with 153,199 cars destined for UK showrooms.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After a record start to the year, car production in the UK has slowed as production lines gear up for a range of new models.

“Global demand is strong and exports remain the driving force for British car production volumes in the UK.”

He added: “Maintaining our current open trade links with Europe, our biggest market, and further developing global markets is vital for this sector.”