Motor trade body says confidence must be restored to UK new car market

A dashboard being fitted on a manufacturing line, as new figures reveal that car production increase

A dashboard being fitted on a manufacturing line, as new figures reveal that car production increased last month as rising exports made up for falling demand in the UK. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Export demand kept UK car production afloat last month as domestic demand fell, new figures show.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) just over 157,000 cars rolled off the production lines in October, 3.5% more than the same more last year.

More than four out of five UK-built cars were shipped abroad in the month, the highest proportion this year, with most going to other European countries.

Exports overall were up 5% – with more than 1.1 million cars built for the overseas market this year – compared with a 2.9% drop in domestic demand.

The SMMT said an independent forecast on how many cars will be built in the UK this year has been revised down from 1.8 million to 1.73 million.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said instilling confidence back into the UK market would be critical.

'It's encouraging to see positive growth in exports this month and a slight increase in overall output,' he said.

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'Production for British consumers, however, has continued to fall as domestic demand for new cars decreased for the ninth month this year amidst continued uncertainty over both Brexit and the Government's air quality plans.

'It's important that confidence is restored to the new car market, as sales of the latest cleaner, greener cars not only address air quality concerns but speed up activity on factory lines across the UK. The latest independent UK forecast report is worrying news for the sector, predicting annual output which is, at best, static compared with last year.

'The industry needs stability and a clear roadmap for Brexit if we are to encourage investment and arrest the decline in both the market and business confidence.'