Exports expected to boost UK car production in 2012 image

Car manufacturing in the United Kingdom is expected to enjoy an export-driven boost in 2012, as competitiveness due to a weak currency helps overcome tough market conditions in its key overseas markets and stagnant demand at home.

Car production increased 5.8 percent to 1.34 million units last year, the highest figure since 2008, with a record 84 percent of the total shipped overseas, Britain’s main auto industry lobby said on Thursday.
Major companies with big British production bases include Honda, Tata Motors (owner of Jaguar and Land Rover), Mini owner BMW, Nissan, Toyota and General Motors unit Vauxhall.

“We haven’t got a specific forecast but we are expecting further improvement during 2012,” Paul Everitt, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told Reuters. “Our biggest single market remains Europe, and whilst there is a clear concern about stability within the euro zone, the big advantage is the exchange rate means that UK-produced vehicles remain extremely competitive even in markets which are perhaps weaker than we would like,” Everitt added.

Solid car exports will continue to drive output growth, he said, noting demand was strong in China, Russia, the Middle East and the United States, helped by sterling’s weakness.