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UK car production 'strongest for three years'

Car production rose last month to the highest level for February for three years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were 143,461 cars made in the UK in February 2005, that’s 1.7% more than in February 2004.

Production for the home market was down 6.1% last month, export production rose 5.7%.

"Car production in 2005 remains steady, with an encouraging boost in output last month,” says Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

"Once again, export volumes are leading growth. The lion's share of these cars are destined for European markets, but it is manufacturers with a strong interest in the USA that are feeling the heat of an unfavourable exchange rate."

The ONS has also reported a rise in commercial vehicle production in February, up by 3.9% to 18,012 units compared to January. Exports were also up 7.5%. However, year to date figures fell 5.5% compared to 2004.

"Commercial vehicle assembly in the UK saw firm growth in 2004 and we expect that trend to continue in 2005, albeit at a more modest pace," says Macgowan. "UK manufacturing facilities are up to the challenge of meeting European demand and a range of new vehicles will hit the market in 2005. Recent months have shown that the rate of progress will vary from month to month, but the underlying trend in assembly volume remains positive. The UK home market is expected to remain in robust health with key European markets continuing to present more positive surprises."

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