BRITISH car manufacturing continued its strong growth in March with output increasing 9.8 per cent to 159,074 units, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Overseas demand showed the biggest gains, up 14.3 per cent in the month, while production for the home market was broadly stable, falling slightly by -1.4 per cent.
It was a trend reflected in first quarter figures, with exports for the first three months growing 11.1 per cent to 329,653 units. Meanwhile, domestic output also rose by eight per cent, buoyed by stronger growth in January and February, to take overall manufacturing volumes to 443,581, an increase of 10.3 per cent.
The news comes as the latest productivity figures released for 2015 show that each employee in automotive manufacturing generated on average £79,700 per car produced, up 1.3 per cent on 2014 – the highest on record, and around twice the UK national average.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘UK car plants were at their busiest for 12 years in March, with a vehicle rolling off production lines every 16 seconds thanks to heightened international demand for British-built cars.
‘Much will depend on economic and political conditions in key markets but, with several brand new global models starting production here in the first quarter alone, the prospects for future growth look bright.’
Commenting on the news, John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG, added: ‘This strong performance is due principally to market share gains from the launch of new models such as Jaguar XE, F-PACE and Vauxhall Astra.
‘The recovering EU and Chinese market, buoyant UK market and weak Pound ahead of the EU referendum will provide a strong tailwind for the second quarter. We forecast UK vehicle production will grow by eight per cent overall in 2016.’
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