By Debbie Holden 31 May 2018 7 min read

New models drive growth for UK car manufacturing

Image: Honda

The number of cars produced in the UK rose 5.2% year on year last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The industry’s trade body reported that 127,952 cars were built in the UK in April with growth “buoyed by production ramp up at several plants to deliver a number of key new and updated models”.

While Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said the year on year rise wasn’t surprising given the significant decline last April, he added that “it is good to see earlier planned investment in new models delivering results.”

Manufacturing for domestic markets rose 7.3% and 4.7% for overseas markets. Overall, 103,662 cars were built for overseas markets last month, accounting for 81% of production.

Given this dependence on exports, it’s unsurprising that Hawes delivered another warning regarding the impact of Brexit on the automotive industry. He said the investment in new models “was made based on the basis of the free and frictionless trade afforded by our EU membership.” He added that “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”.

While the figures for April are positive, figures for the first four months of 2018 overall tell a different story. In total, 568,378 cars rolled off production lines, 3.9% down on last year. The drop in domestic demand was more significant at -10.3% while overseas demand dropped -2.2%.

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