British car production is still revving ahead of the rest of the economy after official figures showed an increase in output for the 13th month in a row.
Almost 120,000 cars were built in the UK in July, which is up 22% on the same period last year, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The figures came in the same week that one of the industry’s great export successes, Jaguar Land Rover, moved to a 24-hour operation in order to keep up with soaring demand from Asia. The latest SMMT total means that year-to-date production is running at 875,998, an increase of 15%.
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said investment commitments from producers with a major UK presence, from JLR to BMW and Toyota, had underpinned the growth. “While uncertainty in Europe remains a challenge, the £6bn investment committed to the UK in the last two years delivers long-term growth opportunities, and the latest figures show that our products have enormous global appeal.”
The car industry is at the forefront of the government’s “march of the makers” because it is such a strong export sector, with around eight out of 10 vehicles built in the UK sold abroad. Domestic demand for vehicles has slumped, with car sales falling 4.4% last year, in a stark example of rebalancing the UK economy away from domestic consumption to export-driven sectors.
The Unite union’s assistant general secretary, Tony Burke, said: “Britain’s car industry is continuing to buck the trend being set by an unsupported manufacturing industry. The month-on-month increase in output is proof that investment works and that, when skilled UK manufacturing workers get the opportunity, they deliver world-class products.”