Car production soars but blow for retail sales

Click to follow

Car production soared by 90.2 per cent last month compared with March 2009, it was announced today.

The rise was a record for any month and showed just how deep in the doldrums the industry was this time last year.

A total of 117,622 cars were made in March 2010, with commercial vehicle production last month reaching 13,046 - a 61.6 per cent rise on March 2009, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

The production rise represented a fifth month in a row of growth following the huge dip in production at the beginning of last year.

The early months of 2009 were marked by a major scaling back of manufacturing, with Honda's plant at Swindon in Wiltshire ceasing production for four months.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said today: "UK automotive production continued to make progress in March with strong growth in commercial vehicle, engine and car production.

"Headline figures highlight the scale of challenges faced this time last year, but also demonstrate a steady improvement in demand in home and export markets."

Mr Everitt said the motor industry would continue to face tough market conditions, with the Government's car scrappage scheme having ended "and limited access to finance and credit for consumers and businesses".

He went on: "A solid exchange rate and the world class competitiveness of the UK industry should help to sustain demand over the longer term."

The March figures took the total number of cars produced in the first three months of the year to 316,067 - a 72.7 per cent rise on the January-March 2009 figure.

Commercial vehicle production has totalled 32,428 for January-March 2010 - a 45.4 per cent rise on the same period last year.

Meanwhile official figures showed today that retail sales grew by far less than expected in March amid signs of consumer caution.

Sales volumes rose by just 0.4 per cent during the month - far below the 0.8 per cent expected by the City - although the value of goods sold rose 0.9 per cent.

Annual growth in retail sales volumes now stands 2.2 per cent ahead of 12 months ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.