UK car production rose 3.5% month on month to 158,773 units in March though year to date volume was off 5.5% to 409,089, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Car exports were up 8.8% to 119,658 last month and 1.3% to 301,337 for the quarter.

Commercial vehicle sales rose 8.6% to 21,319 in March and 4.2% to 57,693 for Q1.

CV exports were up 9.7% for March (13,782) and 11% (37,723) YTD.

"With sad news at [Peugeot's plant at] Ryton and TVR [relocating after half the workforce was laid off] this month, we might be tempted to conclude that car making is in terminal decline. Yet, the truth is very different", said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan.

"Production is increasing at key UK plants, and these latest figures reveal the first month-on-month rise in total car output this year. We should remain positive about the future.

"This week has seen the launch of significant new UK-built trucks and vans at the commercial vehicle show in Birmingham.

"Models like the Ford Transit, a new DAF truck, and a zero emissions van built in the West Midlands demonstrate the breadth of the sector. In an export-dominated market, this should boost prosperity in the months and years to come."