Surge in car output brings UK closer to all-time high

Marion Dakers
CAR PRODUCTION was more than one fifth higher in April than it was a year ago, with a glut of new models helping to bring British car manufacturing closer to its 1970s peak.

UK factories produced 133,437 cars last month, up 21.3 per cent on a year ago to take growth in the year to date up to 6.9 per cent.

Both vehicles for export, which made up 79.8 per cent of all cars, and domestic sale rose more than a fifth.

“New model introductions are fuel-ling growth, while Europe – which currently accounts for around half of exports – is now seeing an upturn in demand,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufac-turers and Traders, which compiled the figures.

“As investments continue to be realised, we expect further rises in the coming months; good news for the thousands of suppliers and employees across the country that rely on this industry.”

Nissan’s Sunderland factory has this year begun production of its latest Qashqai, which is already the UK’s most produced model, and the Mini factories in Oxford, Birmingham and Swindon are also scaling up production following an investment pledge by owner BMW in 2012.

Aston Martin revealed yesterday that it plans to create 250 new jobs at its Gaydon factory this year.

Fresh investment from car firms is also giving a lift to the rest of the supply chain. A poll by the Manufact-uring Advisory Service published yesterday showed smaller manufacturers are at their most confident in three years, with 54 per cent expecting to create new jobs. Almost six in 10 intend to invest in new machinery and 52 per cent are developing new technology, the survey found.

Research firm Auto Analysis expects British car output to pass its peak by 2017. In 1972, when the annual record of 1.92m was set, the Ford Granada began production in Dagenham while Volkswagen declared that the Beetle had finally overtaken the Model T as the world’s best-selling model.