Figures show automotive success, but experts warn that more work is needed

Posted on 4 Jul 2012 by Chris Flynn

As an SMMT report shows strong economic and environmental performance in UK automotive, experts at the Institute for Manufacturing say the sector can do more.

The annual automotive sustainability report, published today, shows that automotive manufacturing turnover is up more than 12% on last year to £55bn and exports are up 14% at over £30bn, representing a record 81.6% of total output.

The amount of manufacturing waste sent to landfill has decreased by nearly 20% and total water usage has fallen by over 10%.

The annual report has also shown that the output of cars and carbon vehicles combined in the UK is up 5.1% on last year, from 1.39m to 1.46m, and the energy used per vehicle has fallen by 14%.

However, SMMT also reported production of carbon vehicles going down 2.3% on last year, from 123,000 to 120,000, and the number of new car and carbon vehicle registrations also going down by 2.3%.

Speaking today at a debate to mark the launch of the report, Prof Steve Evans, director of research at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, said that the figures are positive but there is still much more for the UK automotive industry to do.

“The UK automotive sector has the chance to demonstrate world leadership. The statistics highlighting our waste and water reduction are great but we now need to push this down the supply chain so that they can reduce their usage too,” he said.

“We need to work with the government to reduce CO2 emissions and we need to learn how to communicate to customers that low carbon vehicles are fast and powerful,” he added.

Paul Everitt, chief executive at the SMMT, also speaking at the debate, said that carbon vehicles will be incredibly significant to the future success of the automotive sector. “To be successful in a decade we will have to make low carbon vehicles our main product,” he said.

“Our industry is at the forefront of the drive to a low carbon economy attracting investment in the research, development and manufacture of low and ultra-low carbon technologies.”