By Marcus Leach

Supply shortages caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have caused a drop in car production in the UK last month.

April's production figures were down 7% from the same month last year, with a total of 86,306 vehicles built according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Toyota, Honda and Nissan, Japan's three major car makers, all have factories based in the UK, with Honda's Swindon based plant halving its output last month due to the shortages in supplies.

Even with April's weak figures the SMMT reported that production for the first four months of 2011 was up 7% on the same time period in 2010, a total of 443,536 cars.

Production for exports rose 23%, with output in the domestic market down 35%.

"All manufacturers are working hard to overcome supply shortages and we expect any downturn to be short lived," SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said.

"The outlook for the UK motor industry is extremely good and this should generate new opportunities for vehicle manufacturers and suppliers."