The latest UK vehicle production statistics show a substantial decline in the first nine months of this year, although the month of September showed only a small drop against year ago levels.

In the first nine months of 2001, car production declined by 13.3% to stand at 1,095,286 units. In September, car production reached 131,562 units, a decline against year ago levels of just 1.8%.

Car production this year has been in decline reflecting European restructuring measures by Ford and GM as well as model cycles. The Vauxhall Vectra is now on single shift at Luton and Ford's Fiesta is on single shift at Dagenham prior to run-out.

A question mark hangs over the remaining months of the year and 2002, as manufacturers adjust production schedules in response to falling demand. In response to slowing demand from the US, Jaguar, Ford's luxury car subsidiary, extended shutdowns at its English manufacturing facilities in October.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said, "Indications are that car production is beginning to stabilise after the difficult first nine months of the year. However, we are not out of the woods yet - despite good news from several manufacturers and record registrations in September - the industry as a whole still faces an uphill struggle against difficult legislation and tough economic conditions."

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