UK car output rises in October as more cars head overseas

FILE PHOTO: New cars are pictured at a car dealership, as Britain's car industry body releases monthly new car sales figures, in Cheshire

(Reuters) - British car production rose 7.4% in October from a year earlier, with exports of luxury and specialist models mainly to the European Union driving output, an industry body said on Friday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 69,524 cars were made in Britain in October, up from last year, but still 48.4% lower than 2019 levels.

The industry body said UK car manufacturers were still affected by global chip shortages and supply chain issues.

"A return to growth for UK car production in October is welcome – though output is still down significantly on pre-COVID levels amid turbulent component supply," SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

"Getting the sector back on track in 2023 is a priority, given the jobs, exports and economic contribution the automotive industry sustains," Hawes added.

The SMMT said a big chunk of output, about 81%, in October headed overseas, mainly to the European Union, and in smaller volume to countries such as the United States, Australia and Turkey.

UK car factories have produced a record 61,339 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) year-to-date, 16.2% higher when compared to the same period in 2021.

Last week, British finance minister Jeremy Hunt announced vehicle excise duty on electric cars which will start in 2025.

(Reporting by Amna Karimi in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)