• Economy
  • Q&A
  • Industry news
  • SMMT briefings

UK automotive turnover is estimated to have improved after the recession, recovering from £41 billion in 2009 to £49 billion in 2010 (pre-recession levels over £50 billion). The sector added some £10 billion to the UK economy in 2010, on par with pre-recession figures, as exports picked up sharply.

The value of UK exports rose to £29 billion in 2010, just ahead of the 2008 peak. The automotive sector represented almost 11% of all UK trade in goods in 2010.

Approximately four out of five vehicles produced in the UK are exported and increased sales of premium products to markets such as China and the US helped lift the UK automotive sector’s performance.

The number of automotive jobs stabilised in 2010 at just below 740,000. Jobs in manufacturing dipped below 150,000, but other direct jobs related to supply and in-use activities rose.

The UK has attracted significant automotive investment recently and the devaluation of sterling has supported the sector.

Export focus to growth

In 2010, 77.9% of all vehicles produced in the UK were destined for export. Of the 1.27m cars produced in the UK almost one million units (78.7%) were exported.

The total number of vehicles produced for export rose by 30.9% in 2010, compared with growth for the home market of 18.0%.

Exports continued to rise in 2011.

New investment to support growth

The automotive industry is truly global and attracting inward investment to the UK remains a high priority for industry and government.

Development of a suitably skilled and flexible workforce is a top priority achieved through investment in training and apprenticeship schemes.

The past two years have seen a number of high-profile announcements regarding investment in the UK automotive sector. These have amounted to the creation of around 8,400 new jobs, the safeguarding of over 12,000 jobs and investments in production expansion and new models worth over £3.9 billion.


Each year, the Budget includes specific taxation measures for the motorist. In 2001, government changed the vehicle taxation system aligning it to tailpipe CO2 emissions. This was further modified in 2009 as the limits between bands were tightened.

How significant is the automotive industry to the UK economy?

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy with £52 billion turnover and £10 billion value added. With over 800,000 jobs dependent on the industry, it accounts for 10% of total UK exports and invests £1 billion each year in R&D. Not only does it contribute to the economic well being of the country, but it also employs a huge amount of staff, from component and vehicle production to aftersales and servicing.

What does the motor industry want from the Chancellor at Budget time?

The motor industry, like any other, thrives in a stable economic climate. Constant changes and unexpected alterations to the rules and regulations are likely to have a negative impact on the sector.

Why does the industry refer to registrations rather than sales figures?

The simplest way to record when a vehicle has been sold to a customer is the point in time when it is registered at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea, UK. In this way it is possible to identify real sales of vehicles, rather than ‘orders’.

Why are there peaks and troughs in the registration figures throughout the year?

The figures reflect the twice-yearly change in registration number on the vehicle in March and September, and also the slight peak at the start of the year.

How many new cars are registered each year?

Full details can be found in SMMTs Facts 2013 booklet

The majority of cars bought under the scrappage scheme were imported so the scheme really only benefitted foreign companies.

It’s not just about the cars built in the UK – over three million engines are built in the UK each year, many of which are exported for use in vehicles assembled abroad. It is not simply a case of looking at the models produced in the UK but considering the full impact of a car’s major components. The scheme has boosted the new car market, supporting the 600,000 plus people employed in the automotive retail and repair sector as well as those in manufacturing. Automotive is a truly global industry – the UK has benefited from international scrappage schemes creating demand for UK-built vehicles too.

What more can be done to support the motor industry?

The availability of affordable finance and credit remains the number one priority for companies at all levels of the supply chain. Vehicle manufacturer finance arms need access to the wholesale credit guarantees currently only available to the larger banks – Extending the eligibility criteria of the credit guarantee scheme to all motor finance providers would improve availability and reduce the cost of funding (particularly long-term), with an immediate beneficial effect on consumers.

UK Nissan Qashqai production is huge – here’s why

Last week marked the two millionth Nissan Qashqai produced at the manufacturer’s Sunderland plant. The scope and scale of Qashqai’s success is difficult to appreciate, so here are three facts that might help.

Read more

Made in China: automotive focus on a manufacturing superpower

On Monday 3 November, a number of Chinese delegates will visit SMMT to learn more about the UK automotive industry. With a highly skilled and flexible workforce, as well as a favourable business environment, the UK has a lot to offer global manufacturers, but why the focus on China?

Read more

Jaguar Land Rover opens £500m UK engine facility

Jaguar Land Rover’s new engine manufacturing centre was opened in Wolverhampton today by Her Majesty the Queen. The new facility marks a £500 million investment from the UK manufacturer, and has directly created 1,400 jobs. The new facility will produce Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium engine range, marking the first time in decades that either Read more

UK engine turnover set for £2.5bn surge in two years

UK engine manufacturing turnover expected to increase by £2.5 billion to £10.5 billion by 2016.
Annual engine output set to surpass three million units.
£1 billion invested in UK engine production since 2011.

Read more

European new car market sees 12 months of growth

The number of new cars registered across Europe in July and August increased 5.6% and 2.1% respectively, yielding 12 consecutive months of growth. So far this year, 8,336,159 cars have been registered in Europe, marking an increase of 6.0%, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Read more

UK automotive boosts jobs, turnover and cuts out waste

SMMT’s 15th annual Automotive Sustainability Report says estimated 44,000 new jobs created in auto sector in 2013, boosting total jobs past 750,000. Manufacturing-specific jobs grew by 14,000 to more than 160,000. Sector turnover grew 10.3% versus 2012 to £64.1 billion.

Read more

Budget and growth review – SMMT Briefing

The Chancellor opened the Government’s Budget and Growth Review in the context of creating a strong and stable economy, growth and fairness. This briefing sets out the Key budget measures UK Economic Outlook and OBR revised forecasts Growth Review Annex: Links to further information DOWNLOAD REPORT

Government response to the BIS committee report on LEPs

Government welcomes the Committee’s broad support for the creation of LEPs and believes that local communities and businesses are in the best position to understand and respond to the opportunities and needs of their own economies, and that creating LEPs will allow them to do this.

Read more

Environmental Audit Committee report on the Green Investment Bank

The Environmental Audit Committee has published its report on the Green Investment Bank (GIB). It has warned that the UK could potentially lose out on hundreds of billions of pounds of investment in green energy projects if government does not commit to its plans for a GIB.

Read more

London Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has launched an “Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan” for London. The document forms the basis of the Mayor’s aspirations to make London a leading centre for electric vehicles (EVs).

Read more

Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicles in the UK

In January 2009, Geoff Hoon, transport secretary, announced that government would be investing £250 million in low-carbon vehicles as part of government plans on low-carbon transport.

Read more

UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy

In recognition of the findings of the Stern report and committing to targets in reducing carbon emissions, the UK government has enacted a strategy to initiate a transition to a low-carbon economy.

Read more