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Luxury car exports lift UK car production

Technicians inspect a Rolls-Royce a car on the production line of the Rolls-Royce Goodwood factory, near Chichester, Britain, September 1, 2020.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Technicians inspect a Rolls-Royce a car on the production line of the company's Goodwood factory as luxury and specialist models being exported overseas drove a return to car production growth. Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

UK car production has returned to growth driven by an increase in exports of luxury vehicles, although it is still well below pre-pandemic levels.

A total of 69,524 cars were built in October, an increase of 7.4% on the same month a year ago, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Exports of the latest and more expensive luxury and specialist models drove last month’s output, with most heading overseas.

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More than eight out of every 10 cars, equivalent to 56,469 units, were made to export, with more than half of those heading for the EU, but also the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Turkey.

Some 13,055 cars were turned out for the domestic market.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "A return to growth for UK car production in October is welcome — though output is still down significantly on pre-COVID levels amid turbulent component supply.

"Getting the sector back on track in 2023 is a priority, given the jobs, exports and economic contribution the automotive industry sustains.

UK production of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) vehicles also rose, with combined volumes up 20.3% to 24,115 units.

"UK car makers are doing all they can to ramp up production of the latest electrified vehicles, and help deliver net zero, but more favourable conditions for investment are needed and needed urgently — especially in affordable and sustainable energy and availability of talent — as part of a supportive framework for automotive manufacturing,” Hawes said.

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KPMG’s head of automotive Richard Peberdy warned that rising energy prices could further inflict pressure on car makers and “threaten the global competitiveness of the UK automotive industry.”

“The race for countries to be seen as world leaders in electric vehicle production is well underway and the UK’s position for manufacturing cars, vans and parts depends on very considerable investment in battery manufacturing and skills,” Peberdy added.

“At this stage it is not clear where this is going to come from.”

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