UK: Car manufacturing rises 16.2% in August

By Graeme Roberts | 19 September 2013

Nissan workers at the Sunderland plant make final checks on Qashqai models for domestic and export sale

Nissan workers at the Sunderland plant make final checks on Qashqai models for domestic and export sale

UK car output rose 16.2% in August to 91,282 units, up 12,705 units on the same month a year before.

This third successive monthly gain pushed year to date volume up 3.1% to 984,545 units, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

August typically sees the year's smallest volume, due to the summer/retooling breaks in production usually scheduled Europe-wide. 

Domestic demand fuelled the total increase but exports also rose last month.

"UK car manufacturing is continuing to grow with global automotive brands building on UK-based design, R&D and engineering expertise to produce some of the world's most dynamic, dependable and desirable vehicles,” said new SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, who has previously held senior communications and media relations posts at Volkswagen, Bentley and Toyota Europe.

"Despite August typically being one of the year's quietest months due to summer breaks, the past 12 months have been the most productive since late 2008."

However, weak EU demand and domestic restructuring saw UK commercial vehicle manufacturing continue to decline in August with output down 51.1% year on year to 3,694 units.

Year to date volume fell 16.6% in the first eight months of 2013 to 60,646 units and the SMMT noted output was expected to remain "subdued throughout 2013".

"Focused almost entirely on the European market, UK commercial vehicle manufacturing has been impacted by ongoing uncertainly in Eurozone countries, model changes and restructuring of some domestic operations," said Hawes.

"We expect overall commercial vehicle output to remain negative through the rest of the year but some sectors may fare better with recent increases in demand for UK-built trucks and buses."

UK engine manufacturing, however remained "stable" over the first eight months of 2013, inching up just 0.3%.

Typically subdued August volumes saw output down 16.4% in the month to 124,614 units.

Both month and year to date production for the home market improved though exports fell.

John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG in the UK, said: "Soaring UK car production is being fuelled by rising demand from both the UK and the eurozone. Yet these August 2013 figures may be flattered by the poor results this time last year, when the Greek and Spanish debt crises were gathering momentum.

“Nevertheless, with UK car sales almost back at pre-recession levels and with demand from Europe having bottomed out, I remain confident UK car production will rise again this year, the fourth year in succession and I forecast further increases in production in 2014, 2015 and peaking in 2016 at around 1.9m cars.

“One notable point, as a result of the UK increasingly making higher priced cars, the forecast trade surplus on cars is projected to be a record GBP8bn in 2016.”

For data tables, click on 'press release' below