UK car production grew for the third consecutive month in July, according to new figures from a leading industry body. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows more than 58,000 new cars were built on British shores last month, an increase of 8.6 percent compared with the same month last year.

The market continues to be driven by exports, which made up 80 percent of all the new cars built in this country. More than 46,000 cars were built for foreign customers last month, up 2.8 percent compared with July 2021. However, demand for British vehicles from domestic customers increased more dramatically, up 40.7 percent with more than 11,500 British-built new cars heading for homes in the UK.

But although the news appears generally positive, the SMMT says the figures need to be seen in context. July 2021 was the worst July for UK car manufacturing since 1956 as car makers tussled with the global semiconductor shortage and staff absences arising from the so-called coronavirus ‘pingdemic’. As a result, although last month’s figures appear positive, the growth masks the fact that output remains 46.4 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

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Over the first seven months of 2022, more than 460,000 new cars rolled off UK production lines – a reduction of more than 91,000 (16.5 percent) compared with the same period last year. The SMMT says the decline is down to supply chain shortages, “structural changes” and weak exports, which are down by around a fifth this year.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said supply chain issues may be beginning to ease, but the sector needed “urgent action” to keep energy costs under control. He urged the next prime minister to make the issue a “priority” to maintain the sector’s competitiveness.

“A third consecutive month of growth for UK car production is, of course, welcome and gives some hope that the supply chain issues blighting the sector may finally be starting to ease,” he said. “But other challenges remain, not least energy costs which are increasing at alarming rates. If we are to attract much needed investment to drive the production of zero emission vehicles, urgent action is needed to mitigate these costs to make the UK more competitive for manufacturing. This must be a priority for the next prime minister, or else we will fall further behind our global rivals, risking jobs and economic growth.”

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