UK Car Industry Reveals Record 2014 Figures
According to figures just released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK’s car industry turned over £69.5 billion in 2014, a record for the industry.
The figures were included in the SMMT’s Sustainability Report for 2014, which showed that turnover was up by 6.6% on 2013. This means that every UK car worker is now producing the equivalent of £440,000. The record figures were achieved as a result of increasing UK car sales and exports, in addition to boosted manufacturing output.
The SMMT says that the UK built more than 1.6 million vehicles during 2014, including 1.53 million motor cars. The industry managed to sell more cars in the UK and also increased exports by 1.8%, up to a total value of £34.6 billion. UK car sales were the highest since before the financial crisis began in 2007, and the total value of exports has doubled since 2000.
The figures were welcomed by Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMT, who commented that he recognised that the industry had been traditionally cyclic in nature but that the UK car makers were currently enjoying a high. He also said that the UK car industry was delivering on the government’s targets for trade, exports, innovation and productivity. He pointed out that the industry had enjoyed 39 months of continued growth, and Europe, too, had begun to recover, increasing sales for around a year now. He said there was lots of good news in the industry but some challenges also, including the continuing difficulties in Greece, Russia and the Ukraine. There were significant difficulties in getting enough new skilled people into the industry. This was especially a problem in the engineering field, where there is a shortage of people in apprenticeships and graduate trainee programmes.
The SMMT’s report also revealed that huge strides have been made in productivity in the car industry. In the years between 2005 and 2009, each worker made an average of 9.3 cars. But in the period between 2009 and 2014, the industry produced 12 cars per worker. The industry was also successful in creating new jobs, with 27,000 new roles in 2014 alone. This increased the total number of people employed in the car industry in the UK to 799,000.
Economists say that if current growth trends continue, the UK will build an all-time record number of 1.95 million cars in 2017. However, this has been disputed by other industry observers, who say that the problems in Russia could impact growth in the car industry in the UK by the end of 2015.
Another high point in the report was contained in the section on environmental impacts. The industry is now greener than ever before, despite the huge growth that has been seen. The amount of waste ending up in landfill as a result of car production fell by 26% in the last year, contributing to a decline of an incredible 92% since 2000. The amount of energy and water used in UK car production has also been reduced. The cars themselves are getting far cleaner, in part no doubt due to the government’s policy of reducing road tax for less polluting vehicles. The average CO2 emissions of a car built in the UK were down 5% on 2013 levels, reaching a new all-time low.
The UK car industry is rapidly becoming a beacon for economic recovery in the UK. It has transformed itself from being the butt of comedians’ jokes during the British Leyland days of the 1970s, when it was plagued by industrial action, poor design and even poorer build quality. Today, the industry may be largely owned by foreign companies, but it is hugely efficient and profitable and is churning out record numbers of high-quality cars that people actually want to buy. What is more, the availability of affordable finance is making it easier for customers to buy those cars.