UK car production in the first half of 2009 was halved (50.2%) to 410,740 units, hardly surprising given the numerous shift cuts, non-production days and Honda’s unprecedented four-month complete closure (they’re now back at work and busily preparing to build the Jazz).

As usual, most (almost 80%) UK-built cars made in the first half were exported though volume was off 49% to 327,016.

June output was down 30% to 91,718 units with 72,422 (-28.3%) sent abroad.

Commercial vehicle output was down a massive 64.5% to 43,174 in the first half but all-but-defunct LDV didn’t build a unit and there were cutbacks at the other plants – the UK is home to a GM-Renault van alliance factory and a Ford Transit facility. Exports fell 57% to 32,581.

June output was down 60% to 8,532 with 5,855 (off 56%) shipped to other countries.

Trade group SMMT said the pace of decline in car output was slowing and June’s shortfall was the smallest of the year.

“The UK motor industry is weathering the global recession and beginning the long road to recovery,” said CEO Paul Everitt. “As production volumes and registrations begin to stabilise, government must help to sustain consumer confidence and encourage banks to deliver the credit industry needs.

“UK commercial vehicle production remains extremely low. This reflects the difficult economic conditions and fragile business confidence in key markets, particularly the road haulage and construction sectors.”