UK automotive’s consumer, luxury and supercar manufactures all saw in the New Year by posting record figures for the previous 12 months. Jonny Williamson takes a ride.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the global automotive industry would be nothing but glad to see the back of 2015.
The 12 months contained several high-profile stories that seemed to be blight many of the world’s biggest automotive manufacturers – a number of which led to costly recalls measured in the millions of both pounds and vehicles.
Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Honda are just some of the firms reported to have been affected by safety recalls due to faulty air-bag inflator units supplied by the Japanese company, Takata Corporation.
The number of affected vehicles is now thought to have reached a momentous 53 million, making it the world’s largest automotive recall.
At the same time, the Volkswagen AG diesel-emissions scandal raised industry-wide questions surrounding testing, with the German manufacturing stalwart facing an unknown amount of damage, with the estimated recall number now thought to have reached 11 million.
Yet amidst the turbulence, UK automotive has continued to thrive, capitalising on its re-established international reputation for quality, innovation, and manufacturing prowess.
According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK automotive has a turnover of £69.5bn, with gross value add (GVA) of £15.5bn.
Directly employing 160,000, with almost 800,000 and counting across the wider supply chain, the sector has experienced a 40% increase in productivity since 2010, making it the third largest car producer in the EU.
UK automotive beat 2.6 million new car registrations for the first time in 2015, a 6.3% increase on the previous year and notching up an impressive four years of consecutive growth.
Against a backdrop of considerable global uncertainty, SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said that the new car market “defied expectations”, hitting an all-time record high driven by “strong consumer and business confidence.”
“The past four years have seen a remarkable period of sustained growth, and the outlook remains positive with every reason to expect the market to hold broadly steady in 2016.”
The pound continuing to remain relatively strong, particularly when compared to the euro, may be making export conditions more difficult for many manufacturers, yet UK automotive would appear to be bucking the trend.
The sector now accounts for a record 11.8% of total UK exports – worth more than £34bn, with Rolls-Royce; BMW Mini; Jaguar Land Rover; Nissan, and Bentley all citing Europe as being a market of particular importance to their continued success.
A significant factor in the record figures could be down to the sector’s sustained drive towards innovation and reinvention. As a whole, UK automotive invest upwards of £2.4bn each year in automotive research and development (R&D), with almost all of the players releasing a number of new models and concepts over the past 12 months.
Another attributing factor might very well be the sector’s focus on investing for the future.
Rolls-Royce is adding a new single-line manufacturing system that the marque expects will drive its long-term product strategy, alongside the opening of its new 30,000 sqm Technology and Logistics Centre in January 2016.
To meet mounting demand, McLaren Automotive created 250 new jobs by adding a second shift at its production centre in Woking; and JLR has invested more than £11bn in new product creation and capital expenditure over the past half-decade with 2015 highlights including a £600m investment across its Castle Bromwich Advanced Manufacturing Plant, Whitley Advanced Design and Development Centre, and the National Automotive Innovation Centre.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars:
3,785 cars – second highest sales in its 112-year history
- North America is the top region, followed by the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific
- Sales were driven by the enduring success of both the Wraith and Ghost ranges, while Phantom remains a pinnacle model
- New 30,000 sqm Technology and Logistics Centre in Bognor Regis formally opened on January 4, 2016
- Significant building and expansion work continued at its Goodwood home, which now employs 1,600 – a far cry from the 350 that worked to produce the first Phantom in 2003
- Record intake for its Apprenticeship Programme
- Created 100 highly-skilled permanent jobs
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR):
487,065 cars – increase of 5% on 2014 global sales, with sales more than doubling since 2009
- 400,000+ Land Rover vehicles for the first time – up 6% year-on-year
- 83,986 Jaguar vehicles – strongest full-year performance in a decade
- Record performance in the UK, North America and Europe
- Over the past five years, JLR has doubled sales, tripled turnover and invested more than £11bn in new product creation and capital expenditure
- JLR is to be the first British carmaker to open a manufacturing facility in Slovakia
- JLR’s first manufacturing plant in Brazil has been built – with production of the Land Rover Discovery Sport due to commence in 2016
- Doubled the size of its UK Engine Manufacturing Centre
- Of its 37,000 global headcount, 32,000 are currently based in the UK
10,100 cars – third consecutive year above 10,000, driven by demand in the UK and Europe
- Double digit growth for Europe, and gains in the UK, Middle East, South Korea and Japan
- Currently exports 85% of output around the world – North America retains its number one position
- Continued to invest in its products, people and network
1,654 cars – another record year, as it has achieved every year since beginning production in 2010
- Customer demand from across 30 global markets for the entire range of models – particularly the recently-launched Sports Series which has six months-worth of future orders
- Strong global demand fuelled 250 news jobs to cater for a second shift at the McLaren Production Centre – due to begin in February 2016
- Five new models were launched – alongside introducing a new three-tier product family: Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series
63,581 cars – sixth year of consecutive UK growth, up 17.9 year-on-year
- Mini 3-door Hatch remained the biggest selling model – closely followed by its 5-door sibling
- 44,560 Hatch modes (25,443 3-door Hatch and 19,117 5-door Hatch) – in the first full calendar of sales
- Recently launched Mini Clubman and the forthcoming all-new Mini Convertible expected to drive sales in 2016
- John Cooper Works brand achieved strong growth – courtesy of the Mini John Cooper Works Hatch
153,937 passenger cars – 11% increase year-on-year, making it the nation’s number one Asian automotive brand
- Sunderland plant produced 400,000+ vehicles for the sixth consecutive year – three of which have seen production rise above 500,000
- Sunderland entered the premium market for the first time with the start of production of the Q30 – the first new car brand to be built
- Success spearheaded by its British-built crossovers – despite increased competition, Qashqai exceeded expectations with 60,812 sold, up 29% on 2014’s 47,294, and Juke sold 40,021 compared to the previous year’s 39,259
- The recent launch of the NP300 Navara and longer range LEAF are expected to help maintain growth into 2016