UK automotive boosts jobs, turnover and cuts out waste

01 July 2014 #SMMT News
  • 15th annual Automotive Sustainability Report published.
  • 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.
  • 2013 total R&D spend rose 9.7% to £1.9 billion.
  • Waste sent to landfill cut by a third in a year to achieve all-time low.
  • More than 26% fall in energy use per vehicle produced in last 15 years.
  • Just 3.5kg of waste per vehicle produced ends up in landfill; 91.3% less than in 1999.
  • Challenges remain in recruiting skilled staff and re-shoring the supply chain.


The UK automotive industry is in excellent economic, environmental and social shape according to a new report published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Key indicators in the trade body’s 15th annual Automotive Sustainability Report – which reveals figures from 2013 – show significant improvements that tally with recent growth, investment and efforts to improve environmental performance by the UK’s major vehicle and component manufacturers.

In 2013 alone, an estimated 44,000 new jobs were created across the automotive sector, of which 14,000 were in manufacturing. This growth was matched in domestic automotive manufacturing turnover which grew 10.3% to top £64 billion, fuelled by extensive investment in research and development – a key strength of the UK – which in itself grew 9.7% since 2012 to £1.9 billion a year.

“The UK automotive industry contributes hugely to the country’s economic health by building millions of vehicles, engines and components here every year and employing hundreds of thousands of people,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “The progress made by the industry over the past year alone is hugely important. Growing our skills base and encouraging more automotive suppliers to base their businesses in the UK is now essential for us to maintain this positive momentum.”

Industry analysts suggest that by 2017 the UK could be building more than two million cars a year, breaking the all-time record that has stood for more than 40 years. With continued investment from the world’s biggest automotive brands, the future looks bright for the sector – but the rate of growth and demand for specialist skills has put manufacturers under enormous pressure to recruit and up-skill staff.

Other challenges come with the forecast growth. Supplier capacity can be called into question, so re-shoring more component providers is a vital aspect highlighted in the latest report.

In terms of environmental performance, the Sustainability Report highlights major reductions in CO2 output and waste sent to landfill by manufacturing sites. Carmakers in the UK have cut landfill volumes so dramatically in recent years that, per vehicle, just 3.5kg ends up as landfill waste – a massive 91.3% reduction on 15 years ago when reporting began.

UK automotive was the first industry to report as a sector on sustainability issues in 1999. This year’s report uses year end data from 2013. To read the full SMMT 2014 Automotive Sustainability Report, go to

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