UK Car Manufacturing Hits 17-Year High
UK car production achieved a 17-year high in 2016, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 1,722,698 vehicles rolled off production lines last year from some 15 manufacturers, an 8.5% uplift on total production in 2015 – and the highest output since 1999.
More cars are now being exported from Britain than ever before. Ten brand new car models began production in the UK last year, nine of them from premium brands which has helped make the UK the second biggest producer of premium cars after Germany and the third biggest car producer in Europe.
Total committed investment announcements in the automotive sector in 2016 were approximately £1.66 billion across a number of companies. This figure is down from £2.5 billion in 2015.
Production growth was predominantly driven by overseas demand, with global appetite for British-built cars rising by 10.3% to an all-time high of 1,354,216 – a second consecutive annual record. Around eight out of every 10 cars manufactured in the UK is now exported, bound for one of 160 markets worldwide.
It was continuing economic recovery across Europe, however, that accounted for the bulk of the growth. Exports to the rest of the EU grew 7.5% to 758,680 and accounted for more than half of all UK car exports. Furthermore, Europe supplies the majority of components within UK-built vehicles, underlining the importance of tariff and barrier-free trade to future UK automotive production.
Growth was strong across a number of markets, notably the US – the UK’s biggest export destination after the EU – where demand rose by almost half (47.2%) meaning it now accounts for around 14.5% of all UK car exports. Notable uplifts were also seen in Turkey, Japan and Canada whilst China, third on the list of export markets, grew by a more modest 3.1% with 88,610 vehicles exported last year.
Domestic demand for UK built cars also grew last year, up 2.4% in the year, and the UK remains the second largest car market in Europe, again after Germany. One in seven new cars registered by UK buyers is now made in Britain, up from one in eight three years ago.
Jaguar Land Rover remains the largest automotive manufacturer in the UK, accounting for more than 30% of all domestic car production last year. Its three vehicle manufacturing plants in Liverpool and the West Midlands increased the company’s UK production output 8% over the previous year to 544,401.
The F-PACE – the brand’s highest-volume model – propelled Jaguar production forward by 67%, while the Range Rover Evoque, regained the position of Land Rover’s highest-volume car following the introduction of the convertible.
Jaguar Land Rover vehicles also accounted for five of the top ten British best-sellers globally.
However, the UK’s top-selling export model in 2016 was the Nissan Qashqai. The Japanese carmaker recorded a significant 30th anniversary in the UK in 2016, with production exceeding 500,000 vehicles at its Sunderland facility, the largest British car plant in history.