Car industry greener despite recession

Posted on 12 Nov 2010 by The Manufacturer

The UK automotive industry has become more sustainable in 2009, despite the economic downturn causing a sharp fall in production and turnover.

In their sustainability report, referring to 2009 data, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) highlighted how the sector has achieved lower levels of emissions from cars and production phases and higher levels of waste going to recycling instead of landfills.

Although the emissions from manufacturing fell by 20%, the CO2 per produced vehicle increased by 21%, because the energy consumption was spread over reduced production volumes.

However, the average new car in the UK produced 149.5g of CO2 emissions per kilometre, down 5.4%. This was the largest improvement since SMMT started recording the data in 1997, a year when one out of three vehicles generated more than 200g/km. Today’s figure is at less than 6%.

These are remarkable results for an industry that saw its production decline by 34% and jobs going down by 10% during the recession.

The fourth largest in Europe in terms of volume, the UK car market supports over 180,000 manufacturing jobs over 31 sites in the country. The sector’s stability and commitment to become greener are fundamental elements to the recovery of the UK economy.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: “The motor industry demonstrated its strength and resilience through the economic crisis and now has a major role to play in a rebalanced economy. The recent string of global investments in the UK-based development and production of low carbon technologies are indicative of the longer-term strength of the sector.”

According to the SMMT report, the Government’s plans to support the industry, the Automotive Assistance Programme and the Scrappage Incentive Scheme (SIS), helped stabilise the market. For the next three years, the demand of vehicles is expected to remain stable, as production recovers.