UK auto industry at record high

The UK automotive industry posted a record turnover of $136.6 billion, marking its seventh consecutive year of growth, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

Productivity, production output and vehicle sales increased. Light vehicle output grew 8.3 per cent to 2.54 million vehicles, and the report noted a rise in premium and luxury vehicles.

Exports also rose, with 78 per cent of vehicles produced were bound for foreign markets.

Car production in 2016 was at its highest level since 1999, but the SMMT warned in the report the industry shouldn’t get too comfortable with the status quo, and said “it is expected that the industry will change more in the next five years than in the past 50.”

New car registrations rose 2.3 per cent in 2016. Diesel registrations grew 0.6 per cent, and petrol increased 2.7 per cent. Alternatively fuelled vehicles had the largest growth, up 22.2 per cent to 88,919 vehicles registered, representing 3.3 per cent of the total market.  

Employment has grown 11.9 per cent to 109,890 employees, and the number of jobs dependent on the automotive sector in the UK remained stable at 814,000 people. Direct employment in automotive manufacturing jobs also remained stable at 169,000.

“Today’s results demonstrate how UK Automotive is delivering growth across the UK, boosting productivity and improving environmental performance. This has been driven by massive investment, in new models, plants, innovation and one of the world’s most skilled workforces,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“However, for UK auto manufacturing to continue to thrive, we need clarity on the future, post Brexit, to encourage ongoing investment and growth.”

The report follows fresh uncertainty about the future of the UK auto industry. As talks begin to withdraw Britain from the EU, where it trades freely with 27 other member states, auto industry figures have warned that without an interim deal, this export market, which accounts for 43 per cent of the UK’s vehicle production in 2016, could collapse.

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