UK car output reached 17-year high on export growth last year

car factory in London, UK

The amount of cars made in the UK reached a 17-year high in 2016, according to the market’s trade body.

About 1.7 million cars rolled off production lines in last year, an increase of 8.5% on the year before.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) added that exports increased 10.3% to 1.35 million vehicles, a record for the second successive year.

However SMMT head Mike Hawes repeated worries that investment would suffer without an ideal post-Brexit EU trade deal.

Mr Hawes stated that car production was on course to reach an all-time high before 2020. However the SMMT’s statement sounded a note of warning after revealing that investment by the industry was up to ₤ 1.66 billion ($2.08 billion) in 2016, compared to about ₤ 2.5 billion ($3.13 billion) over the last few years.

On Tuesday, Mr Hawes informed MPs on the Treasury Committee that lots of automakers are postponing investment until there is more clearness over the UK’s trade relations with the EU.

Mr Hawes stated: “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.”

The enforcement of tariffs would be “a red line” for the market, he said. “There would be an impact on demand and jobs – that’s a cliff edge we want to avoid.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark insisted the car market would flourish, stating: “Our modern industrial strategy will make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to grow a business and these figures show why the UK automotive sector has such a vital role to play as we build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future.”

UK car exports to EU countries boosted by 7.5% to 758,680 in 2016, responsible for half of all exports, the SMMT stated.

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