UK car production fall blamed on late Easter

Lines of new cars and trucks Image copyright PA

The number of cars made in the UK fell by almost a fifth in April, with the later Easter break blamed for the drop.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said 122,116 cars were built in April, an 18% fall compared with the same month last year.

It said Easter, which fell in April this year compared with March in 2016, had cut the number of production days.

However, the SMMT said the underlying picture remained "strong", with output up 1% for the year to date.

The UK's industry body said 593,796 cars were made in the first four months of the year - the highest number for the period since 2000.

Overseas buyers have helped to lift the market, with demand up 3.5%, which has helped to offset a 7% drop in demand from the UK.

Figures released earlier this month from the SMMT also showed a sharp fall in car sales in April.

However, the near-20% drop in new car registrations was blamed by the SMMT on consumers bringing forward purchases to March to avoid a rise in Vehicle Excise Duty.

'Good health'

As well as the later Easter, the industry's output in April was also affected by strikes at three BMW plants in the UK in a row over pensions.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Car production fell significantly in April due to the later Easter bank holiday weekend which reduced the number of active production days that month and also due to unplanned production adjustments.

"Overall, British car manufacturing remains in good health with the production outlook still very positive and significant new models due to go into UK production shortly.

"To guarantee future growth and investment into our industry and its vital supply chain, however, we need the next government to safeguard the conditions that have made us globally competitive, keeping us open and trading and delivering an ambitious industrial strategy for our sector."

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