UK car industry hits seven year high

CAR production reached a seven-year high last year with 1,528,148 vehicles rolling off production lines, latest figures have shown.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the figure represented a 1.2% increase on 2013 and was the industry's best year since 2007.

The UK new car market saw an 8% increase last year but while strong domestic sales helped to fuel growth, almost 80% of the vehicles manufactured (1,195,196) were for export - although the total last year was not as high as the year before.

The latest set of production figures also shows the strongest December in a decade, with 108,721 cars produced, up 27.1% on December 2013.

The SMMT said it was pleased with the figures, especially as growth had come despite challenges in some export markets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "Placed in context, a 1.2% growth in UK car manufacturing in 2014 represents a very successful year. The industry has overcome various challenges, including slower than expected EU recovery and weakness in some global markets.

"More than £7bn of investment into UK production facilities has been announced in the past two years, and we are now seeing the effects as new models begin production - with more expected in 2015. 

"UK car manufacturing is now more diverse than ever, with a unique combination of volume, premium and specialist brands giving our products truly global appeal. This is epitomised by the doubling of car export values in the decade from 2005 to 2014."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the figures were testament to the strength of the UK automotive industry, and showed that even in tough economic conditions it continued to be one of the driving forces behind the economic recovery.

"The UK's automotive industry is thriving with a new car rolling off the production line every 20 seconds, while increasing levels of investment are helping to secure local jobs. Through the government's industrial strategy we are backing the automotive industry as it goes from strength to strength," he said.

A key strength of UK car manufacturing is its diversity, with a mix of volume, premium and specialist products in high demand around the world. The proportion of premium and specialist cars, in particular, has grown in the past decade, leading to increasing demand outside the EU. China is now the UK's second-largest market outside the EU, accounting for around 12% of exports in 2014 compared with just 1% in 2007.

Another result of an increasingly diverse product mix is a rapid rise in value. In 2004, the wholesale value of UK car exports was around £12bn; this has doubled to more than £26bn in 2014, despite a similar number of cars exported. The average car exported in 2004 was worth £10,200, compared to £21,800 in 2014.


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