LONDON (Reuters) -- UK car production fell 3.8 percent in April as stronger demand at home failed to outweigh a fall in exports to China and Russia.
Production declined to 128,312 cars last month, driven down by a drop in sales to overseas markets, which account for around four in five cars built in the UK.
The number of cars built for UK buyers rose by 11.1 percent to 29,930 vehicles, whereas the number of models destined for abroad fell 7.6 percent to 98,382, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement today.
Cooling demand in China, the UK's biggest non-EU export market in 2014, has hit manufacturers including Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors. In Russia, the UK's third-biggest non-EU market, demand tumbled as the economy continued to suffer the consequences of Western sanctions over Ukraine, a weakening currency and plummeting oil prices.
UK output in the first four months fell 1.4 percent to 530,505, the SMMT said.
The UK's car market has outperformed those of its neighbors in recent years, with sales returning to pre-recession levels and production rising, albeit by less than expected due to weaker than anticipated exports.
And despite the sluggish performance of key overseas markets, the SMMT still forecasts rising UK output over coming years, thanks to new models due to roll off the production lines at carmakers including Honda and BMW's Mini brand.
SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said UK car production is set to reach record levels in the next few years as automakers carry out multi-billion pound investments, providing global markets perform well.
The UK, which built 1.53 million cars in 2014, is expected to produce 1.95 million in 2017.