SMMT unveils UK’s global leadership of specialist car manufacturing

11 July 2012 #SMMT News
  • Specialist UK automotive companies had a combined turnover of almost £2.5 billion in 2011, exporting around 70% of their products.
  • The companies manufacture around 25,000 vehicles a year, typically sourcing 65% of their components from within the UK.
  • Niche manufacturers employ about 10,000 staff, including highly skilled designers, engineers and craftsmen.

SMMT has today launched a report that demonstrates the value of the UK’s unique low volume car manufacturing industry, highlighting some of the challenges these companies face and, importantly, the opportunities for growth that can be achieved with industry, government and other stakeholders working together to support a world-renowned British success story.

“The UK is home to more specialist car manufacturers than any other country, including some of the world’s most iconic and prestigious brands,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. “These marques boast a strong brand heritage, enviable motorsport pedigree and display a world leading use of innovative new technologies.”

SMMT’s report highlights how specialist car manufacturers inspire diversity in the marketplace, provide highly-skilled jobs, positively contribute to net exports and are often at the leading edge of product design and innovation. The UK’s niche vehicle manufacturing is often associated with sports cars, but the sector also produces small city cars, taxis, accessible and adapted vehicles, limousines and hearses, highlighting the wide range of specialist vehicles built in the UK.

To launch the report, SMMT hosted a panel discussion featuring Michael van der Sande (Chief Commercial Officer, Aston Martin), Antony Sheriff (Managing Director, McLaren Automotive) and Phil Abbott (Managing Director, Radical Sportscars) speaking about engineering expertise, heritage and innovation within their own specialist manufacturing companies.

Following the panel discussion and Q&A, the Business Minister, Mark Prisk MP, delivered a speech in which he acknowledged the contribution of the UK’s specialist car manufacturers to the UK automotive sector, and the potential business opportunities.

Business Minister Mark Prisk said, “We have one of the most diverse automotive sectors in the world. Although dominated by global vehicle manufacturers, we have many strong and thriving specialist and niche marques. With production up, exports up and exceeding the value of imports, automotive is a UK success story”.

To download a copy of the report, Specialist car manufacturing – a uniquely British success story, visit the SMMT website’s UK automotive publications section.

In preparing the report, SMMT collated statistics from 20 of the largest specialist vehicle manufacturers in the UK. Each represents a pinnacle of innovation, prestige, performance and engineering skill, making a significant economic and social impact on the industry.

To mark the report launch, an exhibition featuring a cross-section of UK automotive’s specialist car manufacturing expertise has been assembled at SMMT which includes:

  • Aston Martin One-77 – Just 77 of these £1.2 million cars will be built. They have a full carbon fibre monocoque chassis, a handcrafted aluminium body, and a naturally-aspirated 7.3-litre V12 engine.
  • Bentley Mulsanne cutaway instrument panel – A unique look inside the multimedia system of the company’s flagship model. The Mulsanne is handcrafted over a nine-week build process at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe.
  • McLaren Automotive Carbon MonoCell – The carbon fibre chassis tub of the MP4-12C, the first production car wholly designed and built by McLaren since the iconic F1 supercar.
  • Morgan Plus E – A prototype electric version of the classic Morgan, using a lightweight aluminium chassis.
  • Radical SR3 SL – Radical is the world’s second largest race car manufacturer. The SR3 SL is its first fully type approved road car, meeting Euro 5 emissions standards.

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