February 28, 2018 / 12:10 AM / 7 months ago

UK car output flat in January as domestic demand slumps again

LONDON (Reuters) - British car production was flat in January as a rise in exports outweighed a drop in domestic demand, an industry body said on Wednesday.

Imported cars are parked in a storage area at Sheerness port, Sheerness, Britain, October 24, 2017. Picture taken October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Output stood at 147,481 cars last month, down 0.05 percent, as a 1.5 percent increase in sales abroad compensated for a 6 percent drop in demand at home, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Carmakers are concerned however that their vehicles could face tariffs or lengthy customs checks when entering the EU after a transition period following Brexit, putting at risk sales to the sector’s biggest foreign market.

“While it is good to see global appetite for British-built cars reach record levels in January, this only reinforces the industry’s increasing reliance on overseas demand,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

“Future growth will therefore depend on maintaining our current open trade links not just with Europe but with key international markets.”

Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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