Specialist car makers to enjoy 60% output boost by 2020

Posted on 18 Oct 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The UK’s specialist, low volume car manufacturing industry is set to enjoy a 60% production boost by 2020, a new analysis shows.

MP Claire Perry, Andy Palmer (c), CEO at Aston Martin, and Mike Hawes, CEO of SMMT – image courtesy of SMMT

Britain is home to the largest and most diverse specialist car manufacturing sector in the world, ‘UK Specialist Car Manufacturers Report 2017’ confirms.

The sector is a global leader in engineering, design and craftsmanship, producing a wide range of cutting-edge products.

This includes high performance sports cars, luxury grand tourers and SUVs, as well as electric taxis and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

As reported, latest figures show that in 2016 these car makers turned over a collective £3.6bn, up 52% from 2012.

In addition, they employed 11,250 people – an 11.5% increase on five years ago – the majority in highly skilled, specialist roles, while also supporting tens of thousands additional jobs across the supply chain.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Our specialist car manufacturing sector is one of the UK’s global success stories – making world-leading products and pioneering next generation technologies that benefit everyone.

“For this to continue we need certainty on Britain’s future trading relationships, including customs plans, market access, regulations governing the design, production and approval of vehicles, and rules around movement of skilled workers.”

The analysis states that thanks to an increasing number of affluent buyers and new markets taking an increasing interest in performance driving and luxury models, production is on an upward trend.

Output has risen by a quarter (25%) since 2012 and, by 2020, it is forecast to surge 60%, from the current 32,000 units to some 52,000.

The report underlines that the sector is an important contributor to the UK economy, with 65% of the vehicles it produces exported to markets worldwide, including the EU, US, China, Japan and the Gulf States.

Meanwhile, it supports an equally diverse UK supply chain, sourcing, on average, two thirds (65%) of vehicle content from local tier one companies and a further 30% from across the wider EU.

The study suggests that the industry therefore needs political leadership that delivers a competitive environment, globally, and a future relationship with the EU that safeguards as many of the benefits that we currently enjoy as possible.

The ability to influence global industry standards and regulations post Brexit is also as reported of significant concern.

Major advances in light-weighting, including the use of carbon fibre and composites, as well as aerodynamics and powertrain electrification, have often been led by specialist car brands in the UK.

To support this high-tech innovation, the study emphasises, that specialist car manufacturers need regulations that recognise their specific requirements such as limited production runs, investment levels and niche skills, which differ from those of brands making cars for the mass market.