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Business

Britain's car industry logs record output

Britain's car industry has reached its highest production level since the end of last century, a manufacturers' association has said. But the industry is facing uncertain times ahead of the country's EU exit.

More than 1.7 million cars were produced in Britain last year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders (SMMT) reported Thursday.

The figure marked an 8.5-percent increase over 2015 output levels and the best annual result since 1999.

"2016 was a tremendously successful year for the UK automotive car industry," SMMT said in a statement.

It added that in terms of new car sales, an all-time record was set in 2016, with 2.6 million vehicles shifted last year. However, that figure included cars imported to Britain and then sold.

Trouble brewing?

The vast majority of vehicles made in the UK (eight out of 10) are exported, with European Union countries accounting for 56 percent of exports from Britain. Germany, Italy and France are the biggest buyers, between them accounting for 47.2 percent of cars bought within the bloc.

Watch video 01:51

UK needs parliamentary approval for Brexit

With Brexit looming, SMMT officials said they were uncertain about the future of the UK auto industry.

"We don't know what our future trade relationship will be with Europe and ultimately with other export markets," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said. "We also see a potential increase in inflation and pricing, which could affect the market."

After receiving private guarantees from the British government, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn had in October given the green light to fresh investments at the carmaker's plant in Sunderland in northeast England. Toyota said it would fight to continue operating its UK factory after the country left the EU.

The British car industry has gone through many ups and downs. Domestic brands have been snapped up by foreign buyers, among them Mini and Rolls-Royce, which are owned by Germany's BMW.

Watch video 01:40

Nissan opts for Sunderland (2016)

hg/jd (AFP, dpa)

 

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