UK car manufacturing soared to a 10-year high in 2015, with more cars exported than ever before, according to a report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
A total of 1,587,677 vehicles were built in the UK last year, up 3.9% from 2014, reaching the highest level since 2005.
The SMMT revealed that 2015 was also a record year for the number of cars produced for export, with 1,227,881 units leaving the UK (representing 77.3% of total production), up 2.7% compared to the previous year.
Demand for UK-built cars declined in China and Russia last year, however, this was largely offset by a surge in the number of exports going to Europe, where demand for cars produced in the UK increased by 11%. Europe now accounts for 57.5% of all UK car exports.
In the US demand rose by 26.5%, making it Britain’s biggest trading destination outside the EU – overtaking China.
The report also said that notable growth was seen in Australia, South Korea, Turkey and Japan with volumes up 53.7%, 55.2%, 41.1% and 35.4% respectively.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Despite export challenges in some key markets such as Russia and China, foreign demand for British-built cars has been strong, reaching record export levels in the past year. Achieving these hard fought for results is down to vital investment in the sector, world class engineering and a committed and skilled UK workforce – one of the most productive in the world.
“Continued growth in an intensely competitive global marketplace is far from guaranteed, however, and depends heavily on global economic conditions and political stability. Europe is our biggest trading partner and the UK’s membership of the European Union is vital for the automotive sector in order to secure future growth and jobs.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said, “Backing Britain’s car industry has been a priority for this government and today we see the industry going from strength to strength.
“I am hugely encouraged that manufacturing is at a 10-year high and exports are at a record level. All this means jobs and the security of a pay packet for workers and their families.
“Our plans to rebalance the economy mean we have to continue to build on our great manufacturing strengths in the Midlands and the North of England, and work together to ensure that Britain continues to prosper as a global leader in car production.”