Car exports reach new highs as commercial vehicles suffer

The latest figures for the year ending 2012 have shown the number of cars exported overseas from British car plants has hit a record high of 1.2million, up 8% on 2011. Meanwhile, fortunes for UK commercial vehicle manufacturers have not been so favourable, with exports falling by nearly 10%.

During the year the total vehicle output in the UK climbed to the highest level since 2008, hitting 1.58million units. Car output saw a rise of 9%, accounting for 1.46million of the total output. In December alone there was a 6% rise on the year before.

Commercial vehicle output did not perform so well, with 112,000 commercial vehicles produced, representing a 6.8% decrease on the previous year’s figures. The figures for December slumped by more than 18% year-on-year, and given Ford’s recent announcement of the closure of its Southampton plant, the future does not currently look bright for the British commercial vehicle manufacturing sector.

Paul Everitt, the Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “2012 has been a good year for UK car production and the outlook for 2013 remains positive, with demand in many faster growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies. ”

“The £6bn investment which has been committed to UK facilities, new model programmes and research and development, signals a bright future and many new opportunities for companies in the supply chain. ”

“These remain extremely challenging times and it is essential industry and government continue to work together to secure long-term industrial growth.”

There was also a drop in UK engine production, although figures only fell by 0.3%, to 2,495,000. During this time the SMMT has stated its belief that the downturn in commercial vehicle and engine manufacturing output reflects weak demand overseas, as fresh Europe-wide austerity measures increasingly impact on consumer confidence.

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