UK car production output surged 31.6% in October, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In the eighth month of growth this year, 91,512 units left factory gates marking the best October performance since 2019.

The string performance is against chip crisis constrained levels of output last year and reflects a worldwide surge in vehicle output as supply shortages of critical parts have eased through 2023.

UK car production for both the home and overseas markets grew in October, up 23.9% and 33.4% respectively, although it was exports which drove output. More than eight in 10 (82.3%) cars were shipped abroad, representing 75,343 units, while 16,178 cars stayed in the UK. Export growth was driven by rising shipments to the EU, up 58.5%, which remains our largest market by far accounting for almost two-thirds of exports (65.2%), and Turkey, which grew almost four-fold to make it the third largest market above the US, China and Japan.

UK production of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) vehicles also rose, crucial models that will help deliver net-zero, cutting edge jobs and economic growth. Combined output grew 52.1% to represent four-in-10 (40.1%) of all cars made in the month, a near record high. Since January, UK factories have turned out 287,408 of these models, up 59.1% on the year before and helping push overall car production up 16.7% to 751,422 units.

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By GlobalData

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These figures, coming on the back of a series of significant  investment announcements, signpost a bright 2024 for the UK automotive sector. Government and industry are committing billions to transform the industry for a decarbonised future.

“Last week’s publication of an Advanced Manufacturing Plan and Battery Strategy, the announcement of permanent full expensing in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and the £2bn commitment Government has made to advanced automotive manufacturing, underscore the increasing competitiveness of the UK. Automotive remains one of the country’s most critical industries, delivering jobs, productivity and economic growth across the country.”

Richard Peberdy, UK Head of Automotive for KPMG, drew attention to upcoming rule changes on UK-EU trade, which would particularly impact EVs. He said: “With battery production still in its infancy in the UK and EU, the automotive industry is hoping for welcome news in the form of a delay to the 2024 rules of origin changes.  They are now only a month away and could result in tariffs being added onto the cost of exporting electric vehicles in either direction across the Channel.  Higher costs would threaten market competitiveness at a time when pricing is key to electric vehicle transition.”