Data released by the SMMT shows that UK car production output in the first two months of the year was 1.4% under the same period last year.

Car output slipped 2.7% in February to 133,730 units; 2014-to-date production was down 1.4% at 262,645 units.

However, as export volumes rise (+3.5%), SMMT estimates the average car export value has risen more than 70% between 2007 and 2013, to over GBP20,000. That would square with higher output and exports from premium makers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley over the past five years.

The SMMT said that the industry is set for growth in 2014 and beyond, as fresh investments are made and new models come to the market.

"UK car manufacturing has been broadly stable over the first two months of 2014, dipping only marginally due to forecast product cycle changes," said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.

"The significant increase in the value of car exports in recent years reflects the changing profile of the models produced and underlines the sector's economic importance. With the effects of recent investments still to be fully realised, industry looks forward to providing an even greater contribution to the UK economy in the future."

John Leech, KPMG's UK Head of Automotive, also highlighted product cycles as a factor in the early year period drop.

"UK car production in February 2014 fell 2.7 percent and year to date production is down 1.4 percent, but these downward trends are expected to reverse next quarter as plants ramp up production of recently launched models such as the BMW Mini, Nissan Qashqai and Range Rover Sport. Production in 2014 is forecast to be higher than 2013 and forthcoming vehicle launches should see UK vehicle production increasing by a third by 2017.

"Investment in the supply chain continues as UK vehicle production plants continue to report difficulty in finding UK suppliers of a wide range of components, such as engine castings, steering systems and alloy wheels. This is sparking a surge in M&A and capital investment which we expect to continue for the foreseeable future."

UK car production

Feb-13 Feb-14 %ch YTD-13 YTD-14 %ch
Total 137,458 133,730 -2.7% 266,507 262,645 -1.4%
Home 35,251 27,913 -20.8% 62,162 53,294 -14.3%
Export 102,207 105,817 3.5% 204,345 209,351 2.4%

Source: SMMT