LONDON -- UK car output rose in August -- but only because factories continued production through the usual summer-maintenance shutdown after companies timed work to coincide with the original Brexit deadline of March 29.
Vehicle output rose 3.3 percent to 92,158 units, the first gain in 15 months, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders industry group said on Thursday.
The August increase masks the underlying downward trend and strengthening global headwinds facing the sector," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said, citing international trade tensions, upheaval from the switch to electric cars and the threat of a "hammer blow" no-deal Brexit.
Through August, UK production has fallen 17 percent to 866,918.
BMW's Mini factory, PSA Group's Vauxhall unit, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover all closed factories ranging from a few days to four weeks in April over concerns that Britain's scheduled departure from the European Union in March could lead to disruption, including delays to the arrival of parts.
The production shutdowns led to a 45 percent decline in output in April, but were in vain because Brexit was pushed back to the end of October.
August's rise was helped by a 15 percent increase in domestic demand, data showed.
With fewer than six weeks to go before the revised exit deadline, the SMMT called on politicians to "redouble efforts" to secure an accord that maintains frictionless trade ´between the UK and EU.
The comments came after the group joined with more than 20 European trade organizations to warn that a no-deal schism exposing UK car factories to World Trade Organization duties could drive up costs by 5.7 billion euros ($6.2 billion).
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report