Future of UK automotive exports lies outside Europe

Three out of the top five fastest growing markets for the UK automotive sector are now outside Europe, according to new research.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) set out its priorities to assure the UK automotive industry’s future success - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
In all, automotive exports to these five markets were reportedly worth $17.9bn last year – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The top five fastest growing markets for the UK automotive sector now include the US, Japan and Australia where UK exports are growing at 4.3%, 3% and 2.6% respectively.

The Netherlands and Italy make up the remaining top five where exports are expected to grow at 4.3% and 2.1% per year to 2021.

The figures have been revealed by new research, commissioned by Wyelands Bank.

In all, automotive exports to these five markets were reportedly worth $17.9bn last year; with their projected growth expected to generate an extra $677.7m a year for UK exports to 2021.

At $54.7bn the automotive sector is the second largest export sector by value in the UK behind machinery and components, at $55bn.

Automotive exports as a whole are expected to grow by more than 1.7% annually to 2021.  This makes the UK the fourth fastest growing automotive exporter globally, behind Mexico, China and Spain respectively.

The UK automotive sector

The UK automotive industry is vital to the UK economy and hugely significant within UK manufacturing. The companies in the sector account for £104bn in turnover, created nearly 340,000 direct jobs and a further 814,000 in the whole sector value chain in 2017.

Overall, automotive exports were worth $54.7bn in 2017, nearly half a billion more than in 2016.

UK automotive imports were worth $85.6bn in 2017 – an increase of more than $5bn from 2016. The UK imports an estimated 42% of the value of the cars it exports and has a large trade deficit in the automotive sector.

Looking at components in more detail, the UK has a trade deficit in gear boxes, dashboards, brakes, windscreen glass, rev and speed monitors, and bumpers and bumper parts. Only in radiators and engines does the UK export roughly what it imports.

The situation is similar for powertrain and assembly components where the UK has a deficit across all areas other than car seats where there is a modest surplus. Parts in deficit are safety belts, chassis with engines, silencers and exhausts, car bodies, suspension and shock absorbers, tyres, steering wheel and columns, and drive axels.