The UK automotive industry is on course to break manufacturing records by the end of the decade, according to a new forecast report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Annual car production is expected to pass the two million milestone by 2020 – breaking the current record of 1.92m cars which was set in 1972, when the most popular car was the Ford Cortina rather than today’s top-seller, the Ford Fiesta.
More than 1.5m cars were built in the UK in 2014, and the report – The Future of UK Automotive Manufacturing in 2025 and Beyond – predicted that acceleration in productivity and production volumes towards the end of the decade would see the UK consolidate its position as the third-largest maker of cars in Europe, behind Germany and Spain but ahead of France and a strengthening Eastern Europe.
The report also predicts a rise in employment, with jobs growth in the sector driven predominantly in the supply chain. Up to 9,500 jobs will be created at source by vehicle manufacturers, but that could generate a potential extra 28,000 at component supply companies as UK manufacturers’ demand for home-grown components increases.
Key to the sector’s success is the ‘shift to premium’ – in other words, the increasing value of the vehicles made in – and exported by – British manufacturers. In 2010, 37% of UK car production was by premium manufacturers; this is projected to rise to 54% by 2020. The report said this reflected increasing global demand for premium vehicles and benefits the whole economy, with more value generated for each vehicle exported.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The prospect of further jobs growth, particularly in the supply chain, is extremely encouraging, while the UK’s consolidation as a global hub for premium production is testament to our prowess in design and precision engineering. This success, built on improvements in productivity, workforce flexibility and skilled people, has been hard-fought for; we cannot be complacent. Future growth in a fiercely competitive global market will rely upon continued government support, as well as an attractive business environment which drives investment and stimulates innovation.”