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Good news and bad news for UK vehicle manufacturing

Time 11:24 am, July 26, 2013

James BatchelorONE look at this week’s GDP figures shows the UK economy may well be on the up.

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.6 per cent in the second quarter of the year – the first time since 2011 that the UK economy has seen successive quarterly increases, following a 0.3 per cent rise at the beginning of 2013.

All main sectors of the economy grew for the first time since the third quarter of 2010, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And one of those sectors is undoubtedly the motor industry.

With European car sales faltering, new car sales in Britain are on the rise, thanks to cracking new car offers and deals.

Speaking to the BBC, Pendragon’s chief executive, Trevor Finn, says UK consumers are ‘feeling more comfortable’.

He said: ‘Sales have increased by 20 per cent this year which speaks for itself. There’s more optimism and consumers are feeling more comfortable. All the data that’s coming through on unemployment is looking positive, and I think that’s what concerns people most when it comes to making a big purchase decision.’

But putting aside the ever-climbing new car registrations, it seems the place to build cars is Britain.

Latest figures show UK car manufacturing grew by 1.1 per cent in the first half of 2013 reaching 764,390 units.

And while four out of five cars built in the UK are exported, a fall in the demand for vehicles in some European countries has resulted in a higher output for the home market, which saw a 24.4 per cent increase.


Nissan is currently prepping its Sunderland plant to build its new B-segment challenger, the Note, and Land Rover already has 15,000 orders for its Solihull-built Range Rover Sport.

And let’s not forget this week’s announcement of a new luxury SUV to be built in Crewe.

Bentley has given the world’s ‘most luxurious and powerful’ SUV the green light creating 1,000 jobs in the UK. The programme is part of a massive plan by Bentley to invest more than £800m in its headquarters at Crewe and the development of new models.

Speaking at the announcement of the Bentley off-roader, Prime Minister David Cameron called the decision to build the car in Britain ‘another important milestone in the strengthening of our economy’.

He added: ‘One sector that we know is sprinting ahead in the global race is our booming automotive industry. One vehicle rolls off a production line somewhere in the UK every 20 seconds.’

8b09ef6f-0eac-457b-b987-e709d58fb1caBut one factory that isn’t sharing the current good vibe for British manufacturing is Ford’s Transit plant in Southampton.

Today the plant will be building the last Transits before production moves to Turkey, closing a chapter of more than 40 years of Transit production at the facility.

Southampton isn’t the only Ford UK plant being closed. A ‘stamping and tooling’ site in Dagenham, Essex will also close its doors affecting 750 workers.

It just goes to show how fragile the UK’s recovery is, and that the motor industry’s strong performance doesn’t make it immune from bad news.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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