Motor industry celebrates ten years of sustainable development

14 October 2009 #SMMT News

The UK motor industry is home to some of the cleanest and most efficient automotive production plants in Europe, according to the sector’s tenth annual sustainability report launched today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Over the last decade, UK automotive manufacturing facilities have cut:
  • CO2 emissions per vehicle by 40.9%
  • water use per vehicle by 45.3% – 40% better than the European average
  • waste to landfill per vehicle by 70.5%
  • energy use per vehicle by 24.2% – 12% lower than the European average
Looking at the environmental and economic progress of the UK motor industry over the last decade, the report shows that from 1999 to 2008, the sector increased its turnover by 19% to £52.5 billion with an export industry valued at £26.6 billion – 10.6% of Britain’s total. Over 1.5 million cars and commercial vehicles are produced in the UK each year as well as three million engines, contributing £10 billion added value to the UK economy.
“I am proud of the achievements industry has made during the last decade and the way it has responded to the unprecedented challenges of the recession. Manufacturing will play an important part in the economic recovery and the transition to low carbon vehicles offers new and exciting opportunities for the UK motor industry,” commented Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
As production has improved, UK manufacturing plants have reduced total energy per vehicle and have been at the forefront of renewable energy use. These efforts mean that the UK uses 12% less energy than the European average and through the use of wind turbines alone, 11,500 tonnes of CO2 are saved each year.
In the last year, the recession has proved difficult but the motor industry adapted quickly to sustain valuable industrial capability. The UK motor industry remains strong and resilient, and the post-recession future offers many opportunities for manufacturing in the UK.
Everitt continued, “The transition to a low-carbon economy through investment and demonstration of ultra-low-carbon technologies is crucial to our future. The New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team’s vision aims to ensure the UK motor industry remains a global force playing a significant role in the development of exciting, low-carbon transport solutions. We fully support this vision and believe now is the time to take action.”
The tenth annual sustainability report collates data from car and commercial vehicle manufacturing sites across the UK, representing more than 98% of UK automotive manufacturing operations. It can be downloaded from the home page of the SMMT website at  
‘Towards Sustainability – The Automotive Sector Strategy’ was first published in March 2000, using 1999 data. The automotive sector was the first to introduce such an approach which committed industry to balance economic progress with environmental care and social responsibility.


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