2014 best year for UK car manufacturing since 2007

SMMT figures show that 1,528,148 cars were manufactured in the UK in 2014 – a 1.2 per cent increase on the previous year and the best year since 2007. In addition, the strongest December in a decade saw 108,721 cars produced; up 27.1 per cent on December 2013. This growth came despite challenges in some export markets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Placed in context, a 1.2 per cent growth in UK car manufacturing in 2014 represents a very successful year. The industry has overcome various challenges, including slower than expected EU recovery and weakness in some global markets.

“More than £7 billion of investment into UK production facilities has been announced in the past two years, and we are now seeing the effects as new models begin production – with more expected in 2015. UK car manufacturing is now more diverse than ever, with a unique combination of volume, premium and specialist brands giving our products truly global appeal. This is epitomised by the doubling of car export values in the decade from 2005 to 2014.”

Business secretary Vince Cable said, “These production figures are testament to the strength of our automotive industry, and show that even in tough economic conditions it continues to be one of the driving forces behind our economic recovery. From Sunderland to Goodwood, Britain is turning out cars that are in demand all around the world.

“The UK’s automotive industry is thriving with a new car rolling off the production line every 20 seconds, while increasing levels of investment are helping to secure local jobs. Through the government’s industrial strategy we are backing the automotive industry as it goes from strength to strength.”

A key strength of UK car manufacturing is its diversity, with a mix of volume, premium and specialist products in high demand around the world. The proportion of premium and specialist cars, in particular, has grown in the past decade, leading to increasing demand outside the EU (above). China is now the UK’s second-largest market outside the EU, accounting for around 12 per cent of exports in 2014 compared with just 1 per cent in 2007.

Another result of an increasingly diverse product mix is a rapid rise in value. In 2004, the wholesale value of UK car exports was around £12 billion; this has more than doubled to over £26 billion in 2014, despite a similar number of cars exported. The average car exported in 2004 was worth £10,200, compared to £21,800 in 2014.

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