Foreign demand drives car production

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MORE cars were built in the UK than for six years – with the 1.5 million vehicles rolling off production lines at the rate of one every 20 seconds to try to meet “surging” demand at home and abroad.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the UK was set to become the third largest car manufacturer in Europe after Germany and Spain after production increased by 3.1 per cent in 2013, with analysts predicting that output would reach record levels of about 2m by 2017.

Four out of five cars built in the UK last year were exported, with strong demand reported in China, the United States and Russia.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “2013 demonstrated the value of the UK’s diverse car manufacturing industry, as surging home demand and robust exports outside Europe saw output grow 3.1 per cent to over 1.5 million units.

“UK automotive investment announcements exceeded £2.5bn in 2013, reinforcing industry analysts’ suggestions that the UK could break all-time car output records within the next four years.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Our success lies in the appetite from countries around the world for British cars.

“This will give businesses the confidence to invest, speed up development on vehicles of the future and keep the UK as a world leader in cars.

“Our investment of £1bn jointly with industry will help do this, while also delivering jobs and driving growth.”

Nissan built the most cars – more than 500,000 – at its Sunderland plant last year, followed by Land Rover (340,000), Toyota (179,000), Mini (174,000), Honda (138,000), Jaguar (78,000) and Vauxhall (73,000).

The figures came a day after Nissan’s new Qashqai came off the production line.

The new model has helped create 500 new jobs in Sunderland, where the workforce is set to top 7,000 for the first time.