The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the production record reflected the impact of new models last year - particularly the Vauxhall Astra and the Peugeot 206 - as well as the investment by manufacturers in their factories. However, it warned that the improvement came partly as a result of the strength of sales in mainland Europe despite the strength of Sterling. The figures were published as Peugeot announced the introduction of overtime at its Ryton factory in Coventry to cope with 'unparalleled demand' for the 206.
The Peugeot move comes just two weeks after both Ford and Rover announced production cuts. Ford blamed the cuts on a slowdown in exports, while Rover said the 10% production cut was due to a change in production programmes rather than a fall in market share.