November 20, 2014 / 12:05 AM / 3 years ago

British car production falls in October, hit by lower foreign demand

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - British car production fell by nearly 7 percent year-on-year in October and the industry looks set to miss its full-year target due to weaker overseas demand, an industry body said on Thursday.

Automakers built a total of 150,060 cars in October, down 6.7 percent on last year, due to a more than 10 percent fall in exports, which account for four in five of all cars Britain builds every year.

With car production flat so far this year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it was now unlikely that Britain would hit its full-year goal of building 1.59 million cars, forecast at the start of the year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said new models would help the industry, but blamed weak foreign demand for October's fall, the third consecutive month output has lagged 2013 figures.

"The UK's car manufacturing industry is still in a strong position in spite of the growing uncertainty surrounding the global economy," he said.

Britain built 1.5 million cars last year, with around half of all exports destined for the European Union. Data released last week showed the French and German economies barely grew in the third quarter.

Britain's economy is expected to slow in the fourth quarter, hurt in part by lower exports.

On Tuesday, analysts warned that signs of an economic slowdown across Europe could snuff out a fragile car market recovery, despite sales rising in October.

In Russia, Britain's second-biggest non-EU export market in 2013, car sales have nosedived over the last few months due to the weak economy following Western sanctions imposed following the conflict in Ukraine.

But production in Britain for domestic buyers, which accounts for the remaining fifth of overall output, rose by over 10 percent in October, with demand boosted by cheap credit. (Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Potter)

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