Car production statistics released on Wednesday by the UK's Office for National Statistics show a 19% slump year on year in August to 91,390 units.

But the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) remained upbeat as ever, pointing out that car production in the last three months actually climbed 9.5% while output for the year to date has slipped just 0.3% to 1,096,441 units.

Acknowledging that output failed to top the strong growth recorded in 2002 the SMMT said August's production was over 2,000 units up on the 2001 figure, making it the second best August since 1974.

Export production for the end-August year to date was up 5.8% to 729,001 units.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: "Changes to plant schedules resulted in a disappointing but temporary dip in new car production. Despite the decline, year-to-date output remains on par with last year's level boosted by a strong third quarter total. We are still expecting full year production to reach 1.65 million units."