Figures from the United Kingdom's Office for National Statistics show that car production in October climbed 2.5% to 153,361 units from 149,652 a year earlier, the best October output since 1999. Export production rose 16.1% to 113,750 and accounted for a record 74.2% of monthly output.

The number of cars built for home market sale plunged 23.3% to 39,611 from 51,672 in October 2002.

Total year-to-date volume rose just 0.6% to 1,402,225, with production for the home market down 12.2% to 453,379 and export production up 8.1% to 948,846.

"UK car production has performed exceedingly well so far this year," said Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Christopher Macgowan. "Despite global economic uncertainties and stagnant demand across the EU, British-based manufacturers have seen output volumes rise over six of the past eight months. Exports accounted for a record share of October's output and are expected to remain the key focus driving UK production over the next few years. We are confident that full-year levels will reach our 1.65 million unit forecast."

In contrast, October 2003 commercial vehicle (CV) output fell 15.2% to 16,757 units compared with 19,764 in October 2002. Calendar year to end October production is down 3.9% year on year to 152,880.

In contrast with UK-built cars, CV production for the home market is up 7.1% to 69,655 units year on year for the year to date while export output is down 11.5% to 83,255.

"October's CV output was in line with the most recent trends,' said Macgowan. "Weaker demand on mainland Europe contrasts with reassuringly strong demand in the UK. Continued domestic business investment in commercial vehicles is a welcome sign of our healthy economy. We think continental demand will start to recover next year, with some export improvement in its wake. Overall CV output from UK plants should be more or less stable for some time."

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