UK Car Exports Double in Past Decade to £25bn


British car exports have doubled in value during the past decade, as UK factories increased production and shifted to higher-value vehicles, a study has shown.

Overseas customers bought £24.8bn worth of British-made cars last year, up from £12bn in 2004, with cars accounting for more than 8 per cent of the UK’s total exports, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which collated the data.

The rebirth of the UK’s car industry, which has rebounded from sharp decline in the first years of the millennium to expected record production levels by 2017, has been one of the country’s most successful manufacturing stories in recent years.

An effort to reposition the UK as a production hub for high-end, premium models, led by manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover, BMW’s MINI brand and Bentley, has seen the average value of an exported UK car rise to £20,640, from £10,200 a decade ago.

“This reflects the thriving nature of our domestic industry and our global reputation for engineering expertise,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT. “With booming production volumes and the increasing value of UK car manufacturing, we are enjoying healthy demand from both growing and established markets.”

The coalition government has made much of the car industry’s renaissance, hailing it as an example of its efforts to reposition the economy away from a reliance on financial services.

British factories built more than 1.5m cars last year and the SMMT, which lobbies on behalf of the industry, expects production to surpass a record 2m by 2017.

Of those, 80 per cent are sent overseas, increasingly to fast-growing emerging markets such as China and Russia where the cachet of “Made in Britain” commands a premium.

High-end cars, such as Jaguar Land Rover’s best-selling Evoque sports-utility vehicle, account for 42 per cent of the country’s car exports, up from 29 per cent in 2004.

The UK has also positioned itself as an emerging hub for new automotive technologies. Nissan, the UK’s biggest carmaker by production, has made Sunderland its European hub for its electric Leaf model, while Toyota builds hybrid cars in Derbyshire.

British factories also export more than 1m vehicle engines each year.

While car production and exports have recovered during the past decade, industry watchers have raised concerns over the decline in British components that are used to build cars in the country. Only 30 per cent of the value of an average British-built car is made from UK-built components, less than half the corresponding figure for German cars.

Source:Financial Times

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