UK car production rose in April, with demand growing 5.2% year-on-year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Some 127,952 cars were built in British factories following a double-digit decline in the same month last year when Easter bank holiday timing impacted output. Growth, however, was also buoyed by production ramp up at several plants to deliver a number of key new and updated models. 

Manufacturing for both home and overseas markets grew by 7.3% and 4.7% respectively, with 103,662 cars built for export in the month and accounting for 81.0% of production. However, year-to-date, overall output remains down, by 3.9%, with a total of 568,378 cars leaving production lines in the first four months. Four fifths of these were exported, as domestic demand fell 10.3% against a less substantial 2.2% decline in vehicles destined for global markets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "While April's growth isn't altogether surprising given the significant decline in output this time last year, it is good to see earlier planned investment into new models delivering results. However, given such investment was made on the basis of the free and frictionless trade afforded by our EU membership, 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."

'Green shoots'

Stuart Apperley, Director and Head of UK Automotive at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "These figures mark the first growth in car production since the third quarter of last year, and show that there are some signs of green shoots for the sector.

"The fall in domestic demand both here and across Europe recently appears to have been caused, in part at least, by poor weather during the first quarter and is now expected to level off.

"Since April, we've had further positive news. Greg Clark's supportive comments on diesel earlier this month were the first signs of greater certainty from government – at least here in the UK.

"Growth in China and the US remains strong, albeit slowing, and is significant for those UK manufacturers targeting the global, not just European, market."

UK car production, April 2018

April 17April 18% ChangeYTD-17YTD-18% Change
Total121,623127,9525.2591,464568,378-3.9
Home22,64624,9207.3126,668113,650-10.3
Export98,977103,6624.7464,796454,728-2.2
% export81.481.0NA78.680.8NA

Source: SMMT

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