February 23, 2017 / 12:01 AM / 9 months ago

UK car production reaches 9 year high in January

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - British car production rose by an annual 7.5 percent in January to hit its highest since 2008, as strong demand for exports compensated for a decline in demand at home, an industry body said on Thursday.

Overall output hit 147,922 vehicles due to a 10.8 percent increase in sales to overseas markets, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

However, there are concerns about the future of production at General Motors’ British car plant after French carmaker Peugeot said it was considering a takeover of GM’s European operations, which are branded as Vauxhall in Britain and Opel on the continent.

Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in northern England built nearly 120,000 vehicles out of a UK total of 1.72 million cars last year. Politicians and unions are seeking guarantees from Peugeot over future output.

Britain’s overwhelmingly foreign-owned car industry, which backed remaining in the European Union, is also worried about any potential tariffs as a result of Brexit which could make production at their plants uncompetitive.

“Future growth will depend upon maintaining our competitiveness, not least in terms of securing a future trade deal with the EU that allows us tariff-free access to our biggest market,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said. (Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Mark Potter)

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