UK car production has had its best August since 2002, according to official industry figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Despite fears that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union would cripple the UK’s car production industry, the figures also show a 12% increase in year-to-date car production over 2015, from 1,011,205 last year, to 1,132,727.
Exports have also increased this year, growing by 10.2% over August 2015 and 13.3% across the year as a whole over 2015. UK-built cars have grown in both domestic and overseas demand, with a 6.2% increase in August for UK-bound cars. In total for August 2016, 27,804 cars built in the UK found their way to British customers, while 81,200 cars were exported. Across the year, 877,523 cars have been built in the UK and exported overseas, up from 774,175 between January and August last year.
The news comes as more SMMT figures showed steady growth, after plants shut down for the summer. UK engine production rose by 19.8% in August, with 135,063 produced compared to 112,777 in August last year. Across the year, more sobre growth of 6.7% was recorded, but even this translates to 105,120 units.
This was propped up by domestic demand, though, as engine exports have dipped by 8.1% this year so far, and by 1.1% in August 2016, compared to August 2015.
The SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “August’s strong performance is good news for car makers and welcome news for the UK economy, which depends on this thriving sector for an increasing share of UK exports.
"British car producers are exporting a diverse range of high quality, attractive new models that are in demand across the world thanks to multi billion pound investments made in UK plants over the past few years.
"Future success depends on continued investment in plant and products and that in turn depends on the UK maintaining internationally competitive business and trading conditions.”
The SMMT has previously stressed the importance of continued investment in the UK's car production industry, as well as its pre-Brexit warning that a vote to leave the EU would be detrimental to the industry.
So far, sales figures have bucked predictions that a post-Brexit slump would occur, but before any terms have been made or a deal has been struck with the union, it's still early days to see if any knock-on effect on the UK's car production and exports has been felt by UK-based manufacturers like Nissan, Toyota and Mini. Production figures traditionally tend to be slower to react to events than registration figures.