Output at the UK’s car manufacturing plants dipped by 1.2 per cent in January.

However the slide is not being seen as significant, but instead caused by manufacturers revising their production lines for forthcoming new models.

In total 127,385 new cars came out of the UK’s factories during the month. While down on 2013, this figure is 16 per cent higher than the average gong back to 2009.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders that compiles the production figures, points out that vehicle manufacturers have invested heavily in recent years to bring new models and technology to UK factories.

“The slight dip in output in January is as a result of this investment as major UK car manufacturers begin production of new models,” Hawes says, adding; “As production ramps up throughout the year, we expect to see the sector’s output increase.”

The very different conditions in the UK and European sector continue to be highlighted by the production figures. Some 76 per cent of January production was exported, but this is down from 80 per cent in January 2013. The number of cars made for export slipped by 6.3 per cent whether those produced for the home market jumped by 19.6 per cent.

The picture was more rosy in the engine manufacturing sector, which saw growth in January if by only 0.2 per cent, producing 206,686 units.

Again this was driven by the home market, up 11.2 per cent while export engines, which now account for 62 per cent of the market, slid by 5.6 per cent.

The future for the engine sector looks highly positive, with Jaguar Land Rover’s major plant at Wolverhampton yet to come fully on line. “Manufacturers have invested over £1 billion to UK engine production in recent years, which is expected to yield an increase in output,” says Hawes.

Van factories were significantly less busy in January.
Van factories were significantly less busy in January.

Production in the UK’s much-reduced CV sector slid almost 19 per cent, driven by the Euro sector where sales remain subdued.

Of the 5,443 vehicles produced, 3,341 were for the home market, down 3.7 per cent, and 2,102 for export, plummeting 35 per cent.

Hawes refuses to be downbeat, however, saying that there is still confidence in the sector. “The home market for commercial vehicles has been strong in recent months and we expect a continued resurgence to help drive growth.

“Production is expected to ramp up on recently introduced models which will increase output.”