SMMT Reports

2024 UK Automotive Sustainability Report


A quarter of a century ago, the UK automotive industry made clear its commitment to sustainability with the publication of SMMT’s first annual sustainability report. As consecutive reports over the following 25 years have shown, the industry has driven sustained success – in social, environmental and business terms – making production more efficient, reducing waste, and sourcing energy from renewables.

The result is a major reduction in the carbon cost of vehicle production and the 25th edition of this report shows a significant milestone has been reached, with direct CO2 emissions per vehicle manufactured down by more than half since 1999. It is an achievement that comes through long-term dedication and grit, and against a backdrop of challenges – the financial crash, Brexit, Covid-19 and the major global supply chain disruption that followed.

2023 saw significant declines in CO2 emissions, energy and water usage as Britain’s factories turned out their highest volumes in five years, exceeding one million vehicles. But last year was also momentous for the huge investments secured in our net zero transition, with almost £24 billion announced to produce a new generation of zero emission vehicles, electric batteries and components in the UK. These position our industry well for the future.

Such growth is the latest chapter in our green transition but it’s even more critical amid fierce global competition between rival countries seeking to attract international investment to their own industries. Maintaining a competitive edge is becoming harder but those commitments in 2023 underline the UK automotive industry’s global appeal – with a renowned R&D expertise, a highly skilled and flexible workforce, our firstclass products and famous brands, and our economic openness. Industry cannot, however, rest on our laurels, nor can we alone deliver success.

Collaboration between our sector and government, with the whole gamut of adjacent industries and stakeholders, is essential. Automotive can be the driving force behind Britain’s green growth agenda but we need a suitably ambitious industrial strategy, one that delivers our long-term sustainability goals. This includes clean and affordable energy, strong free trade agreements which provide access to critical raw materials, enhancing our zero emission supply chains, and a skilled up workforce that’s fit for a greener future. Implement these measures and a million EVs will be rolling off our production lines every year by 2035, bringing massive environmental, economic and social benefits with them.

This year’s report is a waymark, therefore, shedding light on how our industry has transformed over the past 25 years and signposting the road to future success. We look forward to working with the new government and its fresh policy agenda which will be pivotal to the next 25 years of success.

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