British car manufacturing races to 10 year high

Car manufacturing in the UK has seen its best year for a decade thanks to increased production and export figures.

British car manufacturing has reached a 10-year high after producing more cars than any year since 2005, with 1,595,697 vehicles produced in 2015.

The figures from SMMT also show that not only was it a record year for total cars produced, but also a record year for the amount of cars produced for export, 77.3% of the vehicles produced in 2015 were shipped overseas to foreign markets.

The total number of cars exported was  up 2.7% year-on-year from 2014, despite challenges in certain key markets.

In China demand fell by 37.5% and in Russia export volumes declined by 69.4%. There were some positive global factors though, with the UK’s biggest trade partner, Europe, increasing demand for UK built cars by 11.3% in 2015.

On top of improved export figures, the domestic market also saw an increase in demand of 8.1%, leading to one out of every seven new cars registered in the UK 2015 made in Britain.

Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT.
Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes commented: “Despite export challenges in some key markets such as Russia and China, foreign demand for British-built cars has been strong, reaching record export levels in the past year.

“Achieving these hard fought for results is down to vital investment in the sector, world class engineering and a committed and skilled UK workforce – one of the most productive in the world.

“Continued growth in an intensely competitive global marketplace is far from guaranteed, however, and depends heavily on global economic conditions and political stability. Europe is our biggest trading partner and the UK’s membership of the European Union is vital for the automotive sector in order to secure future growth and jobs.”

Commercial vehicles

One of the areas that saw the biggest rise was commercial vehicle production, which rose by a third in 2015. Of the 94,479 commercial vehicles made in the UK last year half were exported to oversea markets.

Hawes noted: “Commercial vehicle production ended 2015 on a very positive note, with another month of growth in December resulting in a substantial boost to volumes for the year.

“Exports continued to make up half of UK CV demand, with more than 47,000 vehicles destined for overseas markets, fuelled by the continued recovery of our biggest trading partner, Europe.”

Jaguar Land Rover

On the back of the SMMT report, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has also announced that it is now the biggest automotive manufacturer in the UK.

Jaguar Land Rover reports strong full year Global sales for 2015
JLR produced more than 500,000 vehicles in 2015, compared to 158,000 in 2009.

At the firms three manufacturing sites in Birmingham, Liverpool and Solihull, the company produced more than 500,000 vehicles, compared to 158,000 in 2009.

In the past five years, the firm has employed upwards of 10,000 new staff, with the UK workforce for JLR now standing at 35,000.

Its executive director of Manufacturing, Wolfgang Stadler said “Britain is the beating heart of our business, so becoming the country’s largest vehicle manufacturer is a remarkable achievement, demonstrating our steadfast commitment to the UK manufacturing sector.

“2015 was a challenging year for the industry against a backdrop of socio economic instability, but it is a testament to our strong product range and dedicated team of employees that Jaguar Land Rover has delivered year on year growth, with more exciting products to come.”