News : UK car manufacturing enjoys a bumper 2013

Keith Adams

Evoque production line

It’s great news for the UK motor industry, as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has confirmed that car production rose 3.1% in 2013 to surpass 1.5 million units – the highest volume since 2007. The increase in production has been on the back of increasing exports as well as a growing domestic market.

The British car industry is enjoying the benefits of rapidly-growing, cash-rich markets in the Middle East and China for its luxury cars, as epitomised by the model line-up from Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls-Royce. However, the UK’s largest manufacturer, Nissan, is also expanding rapidly, pushing exports of its recently-replaced Qashqai, as well as introducing a wider model range from its Washington factory.

Car factories are recruiting for new employees across the board, while Jaguar Land Rover is investing heavily in its new factory near Wolverhampton, as well as actively seeking a huge number of apprentices and degree-level engineers. MINI has also made huge investments in its Oxford and Hams Hall factories, anticipating further growth in the coming years.

Interestingly, China’s share of exports of British cars has grown rapidly over recent years and the country now looks set to become the largest non-EU market for UK-built cars. Take-up in the USA also remained strong in 2013 and, while Russia has seen volumes fall since 2012, it is now firmly established as a key export destination for British luxury cars.

Even more interestingly, the SMMT also foresees continued growth and predicts that more than 2,000,000 cars will be built in the UK by 2017, overtaking our best year in 1972, when we made 1.92 million cars. This will also place the UK as the third largest car-making nation in the European Union.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘2013 demonstrated the value of the UK’s diverse car manufacturing industry, as surging home demand and robust exports outside Europe saw output grow 3.1% to over 1.5 million units. UK automotive investment announcements exceeded £2.5 billion in 2013, reinforcing industry analysts’ suggestions that the UK could break all-time car output records within the next four years.’

Keith Adams
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  1. An industry to be proud of. don’t forget we also have a lot of component manufacturer and BMW’s and Ford’s engine plants.

    We are the home of the majority of F1 teams and have some of the leading consultancies too.

  2. All these companies, whether vehicle manufacturers, engine assembly plants or component suppliers, are now operating with high levels of productivity and helping to offer a product that people consciously want to actually go out and buy, rather than feel compelled to. It really does highlight the sheer commitment of all those involved in these industries, particularly those on the shop floor and assembly line who have adapted to some major changes and uncertainty over the years. Long may this success continue!

  3. Don’t also forget for all Ford no longer produce any cars over here, the Fiesta and some larger Fords use engines and transmissions made in Britain, which surely helps our balance of payments, and BMW have an engine factory here now.
    While obviously we’d all love Rover to be still around and making decent cars and outselling Ford or GM, life has moved on since 2005 and what we do have is a highly productive car industry making quality products people want to buy with a workforce that takes pride in its work.

  4. Apparently at this rate the UK will shortly overtake France in terms of vehicle production – a bit ironic given that our best factory (Nissan Sunderland) is ultimately French owned.

    I wish Toyota at Burnaston were doing more to participate in this boom, ie producing cars that people really want to buy.

  5. I’m particularly grateful for the improving fortunes of the British car industry (and the car industry in general) as I am it’s newest recruit- albeit at the humblest level.

    This morning I got a letter telling me that I’ve been offered a job delivering vehicles nationwide for a fleet management and pre-delivery inspection company. It does involve trade-plating but no hitch-hiking thankfully, they either collect their drivers, put them on a train, or hire a car to get them home.

    Not the best paid job in the world, certainly, but one I think I’ll enjoy very much indeed.

  6. Fantastic news and an amazing statistic. If we can build more cars than ever with the manufacturing infrastructure we have now it just goes to show how inefficient things where when Dagenham, Longbridge, Luton, Ryton, Linwood and Canley where operational.

  7. I hear that Nissan built 1.7 million of the outgoing Qashqai model and one leaves the production line every 61 secs. Impressive!

    How things have picked up since 2009. Good luck to all UK Manufacturers, although I hear Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port Plant has less success with the Opel badged Astra’s in Europe – although the Griffin badged one’s are popular.

  8. I believe that DAF is doing particularly well with record output in their Leyland factory too. And as engines have been mentioned, Perkins in Peterborough are having a fine time too….

  9. While there might be fewer British cars on the road than in the seventies, at least what is made now is as good as anything made abroad and the strike ridden, unproductive image of the Big Four era is a distant memory.
    Isn’t it ironic that one of the companies that was the biggest threat to the British car industry in the seventies, Nissan Datsun, is now the biggest employer in the British car industry.

  10. 12. Landyboy: thanks. Watching & reading from the other side of the world: these are interesting. Vauxhall is lower than Jaguar yet I keep reading than Jaguar needs to increase: I guess Vauxhall is bound up with Opel, but certainly hope they can grow. An aside: Opel tried to launch themselves in Australia a year ago: lots of ads of “German Technology” and such, but almost all their product came from UK. Alas them bombed and closed down within a year.

  11. @13
    No problem. The full year registrations for “Vauxhall” in the UK were 259,444, but most of these were built in “Opel” factories in mainland Europe. There were also a handful of Monaros sent to us from your side of the world.

    GM really has more brands than it knows what to do with and some odd naming rules. In the rest of Europe there’s the Opel Adam. Not the first car name derived by swapping someone’s first and last names (Ford Edsel and Borgward Isabella, for example), but for the UK this has to be sold as the Vauxhall Adam, which makes no sense.

  12. I think you will find that the majority of Ellesmere Port production is now not cars but engines. It was certainly intended that it would produce the bulk of GM Europe’s engines , but whether this has yet happened I do not know

  13. @15, And makes all Astra Tourer’s.

    @12, I cannot see the wisdom in the last line of your comments. The factory earns its keep, each separate factory has to be efficient and pay its bills in its own right.

  14. I’m chuffed to bit to see this news. As a buyer of a new Land Rover in 2011 (as a company car) and then a new to me (18 months old one) just a few weeks ago – this time with my own cash – I can’t believe how well Land Rover are doing.

    What shocks me are the numbers involved. How long ago was it that the whole British Leyland combine built 340,000 cars in a year? (Let alone 340,000 high value cars).

    I would love to see Jaguar sell the amount of cars it really deserves to as well.

    I’m pleased to say that with the Focus RS gone and one Land Rover and 3 Hinckley built Triumphs in the garage my fleet is, once again, 100% UK built 🙂

  15. An article on Nissan UK is way overdue. The Sunderland factory is nearly 30 years old now and from the day it opened it has been a massive success, with not a day lost to strikes and being as productive as Nissan’s Japanese factories.

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