UK car manufacturers enjoyed best year since 1999, says SMMT

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British car manufacturers recorded a 17 year high in output last year, with more than 1.7 million cars coming off UK production lines according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Soaring export demand sent volumes soaring by 8.5% on 2015 levels, figures revealed. Around half of international orders were bound for a resurgent European market, said SMMT.

The boom was the result of strong investment in production facilities, advanced design & technology and the skill-sets of UK workers, SMMT added.

SMMT downplayed the impact of a Brexit weakened pound on the production figures. However, the fact that many UK built cars contained EU sourced components did place critical importance on future barrier-free trade deals with the EU, said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

He said: “Significant investment in new plants and products over the past few years has driven this growth, not a post-Brexit bounce. We want trade deals but they must be the right deals, not rushed deals. Failure to do so could damage UK automotive manufacturing beyond repair.”

In total, 8 in 10 UK made cars were exported, figures showed. The US was the second biggest market after the EU with China, Turkey and Australia completing the top five destinations.

Domestic demand for cars also increased by 2.4%.