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UK: Car output falls in May

By Graeme Roberts | 20 June 2013

UK car manufacturing fell 8.4% in May to 129,355, but still outperformed pre-recession levels, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Output was flat in the first five months of 2013, falling 0.6% to 632,804 units.

Domestic demand continues to grow, fuelling production rises of more than a quarter so far this year but weak demand in Europe has curbed overall car output.

Independent analysts suggest UK car output will rise over the full year.

"Despite output falling this month due to weak European demand, UK car manufacturing in May was above 2007 levels," said SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton.

"Production levels are holding firm for the year so far, testament to the appeal of UK-built products around the world and significant growth in volumes built for the home market. While economic challenges abroad will impact on car output in the short-term, high-value investment by global automotive companies sets UK industry on course for prosperity in the long-term."

Commercial vehicle (CV) output fell 20% in May to 7,560 units, broadly in line with the 16.1% fall year to date.

Output for the domestic market showed further growth but could not offset export losses. Export volumes were down almost a third in the month and 31.5% for the first five months of 2013.

"Commercial vehicle manufacturers continue to battle against weak demand, particularly abroad, with output sliding 20% in May. Demand for UK-built CVs in the home market grew moderately, but this was not enough to lessen the significant drop in export volumes," said SMMT commercial vehicle manager Nigel Base.

"2013 is going to be a hard year for the UK's CV manufacturers but there are pockets of positivity with some areas of the industry experiencing growth as operators take advantage of the wide range of CVs built in the UK."

Engine output fell 8.2% in May to 223,025 units and was down 3.4% to 1,133,091 year to date.

In line with vehicle manufacturing trends, engine production fell in May after a surge in April with growth in output for the domestic market but double digit declines in exports.

For data tables, click on 'press release' below.