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UK Car Production Rises for First Time in 15 Months

Honda employees rally against the planned closure of the Swindon plant of the Japanese car manufacturer, outside of the Houses of Parliament in London, March 6, 2019.

British car production increased by an annual 3.3% in August, the first rise in 15 months, helped by several factories having moved their summertime shutdowns to April in preparation for the original Brexit date, an industry body said Thursday.

MW, Peugeot, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover all closed factories ranging from a few days to four weeks in April over concerns that Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union in March could lead to disruption, including delays to the arrival of parts.

The move led to a 44.5% decline in output in April, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and ended up being in vain as Brexit was eventually pushed back to the end of October.

August saw a small bounce back with output rising 3.3% to 92,158 cars, helped by a 15.2% increase in domestic demand, data showed.

“Today’s figures mask the underlying downward trend and strengthening global headwinds facing the sector, including international trade tensions, massive technological upheaval and, in the UK, political and economic uncertainty,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

“We now need parliament and government to redouble efforts to get a deal that maintains free and frictionless trade.”