Executive summary

13th Edition – 2011 data – click here to view data from other years.

Page contents: Foreword | Performance indicators | Performance highlights | Signatories | Commitments | Latest data

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is achieving the right balance of economic progress, environmental care and social responsibility.

Another widely-cited definition from the 1987 Brundtland Report states, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Video introduction


SMMT’s 13th Sustainability Report reflects more clearly than ever the progress UK automotive is making towards its long-term environmental commitment, driven by sustained investment in resource efficiency and the development of low and ultra-low carbon products.

This report highlights key achievements in 2011, supported by detailed information within this website hub. The data, analysis and case studies provide a wealth of valuable information illustrating the economic, social and environmental credentials of automotive companies in the UK.

Besides the substantial 23% improvement in average new car CO2 emissions since 2000, an efficient and globally competitive manufacturing base has contributed to driving down every single key environmental indicator. From substantially cutting the amount of waste going to landfill to significant reductions in total water usage, efficiencies at every level of manufacturing have produced outstanding environmental results for UK automotive.

Ensuring it remains at the forefront of global automotive innovation and manufacturing, companies in the UK have continued to invest in their workforce, which is why in 2011 the industry continued to provide training to more than 14,500 apprentices and employ nearly 720,000 people – 140,000 of who work directly in manufacturing. With UK automotive taking the lead on government initiatives like ‘See Inside Manufacturing’, as well as industry’s close relationship with academia, it fully recognises the need to attract generation after generation of bright young talent into a challenging and rewarding industry.

Generating over £50 billion turnover, the sector remains the largest in UK manufacturing and global demand for UK-built vehicles sustains healthy production volumes and export levels. As government, industry and academia work together, automotive continues to attract global investment, with over £1.3 billion spent on R&D each year ensuring the UK maintains effective long-term progress on the low carbon agenda.

2011 was a year when UK manufacturing maintained a good rate of growth as the sector continued its recovery from recession. Industry committed £4 billion investment in UK automotive, securing jobs, guaranteeing our substantial contribution to the economy, and directing huge resources into enhancing and developing manufacturing facilities. It is this commitment that will maintain our global competitiveness and the sustainability of our industry well into the future.

Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive

If you wish to read the report offline, click here to download the 2012 Sustainability Report as a PDF. If you would like to continue reading online, use the tabs at the top of the page to navigate between the different sections of the 2012 report.

Performance indicators in summary


(* jobs data is compiled from several official sources using expert SMMT analysis)

(** due to changes with the way the data is collected, the 2010 and 2011 figures havebeen revised to include all engineering, rather than just automotive apprentices)

Please note: certain performance figures in the 2010 and 2011 columns are rounded from more detailed data available via the appendices below. Use the links to download the appendices to see the specific data behind each of the percentage changes outlined above:

Economic performance

  • Due to increased demand, especially for export, vehicle manufacturing rose by 5.1% in the UK and signatories’ turnover increased by 7% to £45.3billion. At the same time, UK domestic vehicle registrations dropped by 2.3%.
  • Automotive sector turnover rose 12.2% whereas expenditure on R&D remained stable.

The indicators above cover 2011 data. Click through for the latest news about economic sustainability in UK automotive.

Environmental performance

  • All absolute environmental key performance indicators for manufacturing improved in 2011, despite 5.1% more vehicles being produced. This demonstrates industry’s commitment to resource efficiency. Energy use dropped 6.0%, CO2 equivalent 3.3%, water use 10.8% and waste to landfill 23.7%. All relative figures also improved.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from manufacturing cars and vans fell by 1% and 4% respectively.
  • Average new car CO2 fell to 138.1g/km, down 4.2% on 2010.

The indicators above cover 2011 data. Click through for the latest news about environmental sustainability in UK automotive.

Social performance

  • The number of jobs dependent on the sector saw a 2.4% drop.
  • Signatories’ employment rose 9.4% and the number of lost time incidents at signatories fell a further 5.1% on 2010. The number of training days remains stable at 2.9 per employee. The number of new apprentices in the sector rose by 11.7%.

The indicators above cover 2011 data. Click through for the latest news about social sustainability in UK automotive.

Signatories to this report and brands represented

Bentley Motors Limited Bentley
BMW Group including Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce
Caterpillar Caterpillar, Perkins
Ford Motor Company Limited Ford
General Motors UK Limited Vauxhall, Chevrolet
GKN Driveline Limited GKN
Honda of the UK Manufacturing Limited Honda
IBC Vehicles Limited Vauxhall, Renault, Nissan Commercial Vehicles
Jaguar Cars Jaguar
Land Rover Land Rover
Leyland Trucks DAF Trucks
Mercedes-Benz UK Limited Mercedes-Benz, smart
Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited and Nissan Technology Centre Group Nissan
PSA Peugeot Citroën Automobiles UK Limited Peugeot, Citroën
Toyota (GB) plc and Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited Toyota, Lexus
Volkswagen Group (UK) Limited Audi, SEAT, Ã… koda, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
Volvo Cars UK Limited Volvo

Our commitments

The 15 points below represent the commitments made by the signatories of the SMMT Sustainability Report.

Sustainability reporting

1. Improve and enhance sustainability reporting and respond to stakeholder feedback.

Production and distribution

2. Control and reduce the environmental impact of company operations.

3. Affirm economic growth, turnover and investment toward securing competitiveness in the global economy.

4. Add value to employment capital through development, skills and training.

5. Improve the working environment, health and safety of employees.

6. Improve our understanding of the impact of pre and post production logistics on the environment.

7. Support development of a high quality and strong environmental supply and reverse supply chain network.


8. Improve fuel efficiency of newly designed products.

9. Research, develop and bring cleaner technologies to the market to improve tailpipe emission standards and, where practical, to introduce vehicles with higher emission standards in advance of legislation.

10. Improve the safety of new vehicles.

End of life

11. Provide facilities for consumers to return vehicles for disposal at the end of their life.

12. Design and build vehicles to ensure that at least 95% of the weight of materials used can be recovered at the end of their life.

Engagement and information

13. Engage proactively with external stakeholders.

14. Provide information to consumers to enhance awareness and understanding of the vehicle’s environmental and safety features.

15. Support strategies to reduce the environmental impact of road transport through fuel, driver and infrastructure development and an overall integrated approach.

Further information

The 13th Edition of SMMT’s Sustainability Report covers 2011 data.

Archived reports are available in the Environment section of Reports and publications.

The following links take you to the most recent data:

If you wish to read the report offline, click here to download the 2012 Sustainability Report as a PDF.

If you wish to continue reading online, use the ‘Report contents‘ menu at the top of this page to jump to another tab and find out more about sustainability in UK automotive.

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