Data shows continued growth in UK automotive production

UK car production continued to grow last month, despite a recent fall in the country’s overall manufacturing output, new data shows.

Automotive plants manufactured 141,146 cars in May, representing the month’s highest output since 2004 and a year-on-year increase of 42.2 per cent, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This contrasts with data from the National Office of Statistics released earlier this week that showed the UK’s total manufacturing output fell by 0.7 per cent in April compared with the previous month and 0.3 per cent compared with April 2011.

The total number of cars produced in the year to date was up by 17.3 per cent compared with this time in 2011 and UK engine manufacturing rose 13.4 per cent year on year, although commercial vehicle production saw an annual fall of 7.4 per cent.

‘This boost, coupled with robust year-to-date results, demonstrates the strength of UK automotive manufacturing and shows why it continues to attract high levels of international investment,’ said SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt.

‘While commercial vehicle output remains subdued, in line with restrained levels of demand, the year’s engine output volume passed one million in May and is more than 40,000 units ahead of last year.’

The overall fall in the UK’s manufacturing output in April contributed to the zero-growth figures in Britain’s production industries and was only balanced by an increase in electricity and gas output due to the recent cold weather.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: ‘After a flat start to the year, April’s drop in output is disappointing and, despite the fall coming on the back of a large uptick in March, this still leaves production hovering around levels seen at the end of 2010.

‘Monthly volatility in the data isn’t surprising given the continuing uncertainty in world markets and is likely to be feeding into lumpy and less predictable order flows.

‘But at a sector level we continue to see both strengths and weaknesses. Aerospace, mechanical equipment and electronics all showed strong growth on the month, but not enough to offset particularly sharp falls in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and food.’