Car production down by nearly a half

Car and commercial vehicle production slumped by nearly half last month, official figures have shown.

The number of cars made in December fell 47.5 per cent compared with December 2007, while commercial vehicle (CV) production was down 56.7 per cent.

The huge falls last month meant that car production for the whole of 2008 was 5.7 per cent down on 2007, with CV production falling 5.9 per cent.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Paul Everitt said: "UK vehicle production figures for 2008 demonstrate both the strength of the sector and the very dramatic fall in demand in the last quarter.

"UK facilities are globally competitive with high productivity levels and hugely attractive model line-ups. Exports account for 75 per cent of all UK vehicle production, serving more than 100 markets around the world."

He went on: "The automotive industry is of strategic economic and social importance, reflected in the measures to support the industry being discussed by governments across Europe and around the world.

"The SMMT has been in close discussion with the UK government on the urgent need to improve access to credit and kick-start demand in the market, in order to sustain valuable industrial capability during this exceptionally difficult period.

"SMMT is looking forward to meeting with Lord Mandelson before the end of January to receive the government's response to the proposals we submitted at our November meeting."

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