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Summer breaks drive UK car output 22% lower in August

Nissan's Sunderland factory - Summer breaks drive UK car output 22% lower in August

UK car production fell 22 percent in August to 71,000 cars because of the timing of holidays and repairs to a major plant but output so far in 2014 remains ahead of last year, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.

The UK’s biggest facility, Nissan’s factory in Sunderland (photo above), northeast England, joined other major car plants in shutting for longer than last year. Normally, the Nissan factory closes every summer for two weeks, but this year the automaker said an extra week of holiday fell in August rather than July.

The plant, which built one in three of Britain’s 1.5 million cars in 2013, produced an average of 2,000 cars a day last year, meaning the extra week in August is likely to have represented a decline of about 10,000 vehicles.

Repairs to presses cut production by a further 7,400 cars last month according to Nissan, meaning the marque accounted for the bulk of the decline in August.

UK car production overall has risen year-on-year in the UK since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, during which time output and sales nosedived, prompting the government to support the industry through a car scrappage scheme.

So far this year, output is up 1 percent to 994,949, prompting SMMT CEO Mike Hawes to say he was confident the UK is on course to continue its strong performance despite the drop last month.

“The UK automotive sector in the midst of a renaissance,” Hawes said. “Global demand for quality UK-built products is at an unprecedented level, with significant investments into UK production facilities from government and industry.”

Further growth is expected from new models including a five-door Mini and Jaguar’s XE, launched earlier this month, as well as from models rolled out in the last year such as Honda’s Civic Tourer wagon.

The UK is expected to build 2 million cars in 2017, according to SMMT forecasts, surpassing an all-time high of 1.92 million set in 1972.