Nissan Jukes on the Sunderland production line, via PANissan Jukes on the Sunderland production line, via PA


Nissan tops UK car manufacturing league for 2023 in stellar year for production

  • UK vehicle production topped a million units in 2023 – up 17% in best year since 2019
  • 905,117 cars and 120,357 commercial vehicles were made
  • Nissan made the most vehicles, followed by JLR, Mini, Toyota and Bentley
  • £23.7bn of private and public investment commitments were announced in 2023

Time 6:36 am, January 25, 2024

Nissan shone in the UK car manufacturing charts last year – the best year for vehicle production since before the pandemic.

Figures released today by the SMMT show that 905,117 cars and 120,357 commercial vehicles (CVs) were produced by the country’s auto manufacturers.

The combined total of 1,025,474 was a 17% rise in output on 2022 and the first time it has topped a million since 2019, when 1,303,135 cars and 78,270 CVs were made.

The SMMT said the easing of pandemic-related challenges that included microchip shortages and lockdowns as well as increasing electrified model production combined to drive annual output up.

UK production of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles surged to 346,451 units – up 48% on the 234,089 figure of the year before to account for almost two-fifths (38.3%) of overall output and a record for electrified model output.

Overall, UK car production rose by 16.8% in 2023   – its best growth rate since 2010, said the SMMT – with the total retail value of all models made coming in at more than £50bn.

A strong December performance for car manufacturing – up 20.7% year on year from 51,168 to 61,768 – helped round off a positive year, added the industry body.

Nissan was top among the manufacturers in 2023, with 324,893 Jukes, Leafs and Qashqais made at its Sunderland plant – a whopping 36.3% increase on the 238,329 it made in 2022.

JLR took second place with 238,422 vehicles produced at its factories in Castle Bromwich, Halewood and Solihull. That was up by 17.6% on 2022’s 202,788 units.

Mini saw a 0.7% dip in production from 186,222 to 184,996 at its Oxford plant, but that was still enough to make it the third most productive manufacturer.

It was followed by Toyota with 122,193 vehicles – including Suzuki cars – manufactured at its Burnaston site. That was up by 15.7% from 105,590 in 2022.

Crewe-based Bentley, meanwhile, which last week reported an 11% drop in global sales in 2023, produced 2,780 fewer vehicles – a 17.8% decrease from 15,639 to 12,859.

Most of the cars that were made went overseas, with 713,870 exports as opposed to the 191,247 that remained at home.

Year on year, exports rose by 17.6% from 606,838 versus a 13.7% rise in output from 168,176 for the British market.

The EU was still the largest global market by far, taking 60.3% of exports, with shipments up by almost a quarter (23.2%) to 430,411 units.

The US was the next biggest destination with a 10.3% share of exports (73,571 units), followed by China with 7.2% (51,202 units), although exports to both actually slipped by 9.1% and 2.7% respectively.

Turkey, however, saw exports surge by a whopping 223.8% to 27,346 units, making it the UK’s fourth biggest global market ahead of Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada, the UAE and Switzerland.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘Receding supply chain challenges, new model introductions and a massive £23.7bn of investment put UK vehicle production firmly back on track in 2023.

‘Industry will now focus on the delivery of these commitments, transitioning the sector at pace to electric and scaling up the supply chain.

‘With global competition as fierce as it has ever been and amid escalating geopolitical tensions, both government and industry must remain singularly focused on competitiveness, with all the jobs and growth this will bring.

‘We are in a much better position than a year ago, but the challenges are unrelenting.’

What the industry says

Positive outlook for 2024

Another promising year-on-year growth in production figures coupled with increased investment in the manufacturing sector presents a positive outlook for 2024.

Long-term funding will be key to ensuring the UK keeps up with battery production demand to enable an uptake in EVs, which will be crucial to meeting the revised 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles.

As well as investing in manufacturing, the government will need to ramp up infrastructure investment to ensure the UK is ready for the shift to EVs.

At present, our research shows that 72% of dealers who do not expect the ban to go ahead believe so because they feel that there isn’t enough time to improve the infrastructure to sufficiently cater for widespread EV adoption.

Lisa Watson, director of sales, Close Brothers Motor Finance

Prices could be further softened

The millionth vehicle rolling off the UK’s production lines in 2023 shows the UK automotive industry is back in business after Covid and other global disruptions, although it’s still a long way off pre-pandemic figures.

We now face an influx of Chinese car imports and new brands entering the UK market this year which may soften prices further, at the same time as consumers baulk from making the switch due to perceived charging, cost and battery anxieties.

The government must maintain its commitments to its automotive transformation fund, look to equalise VAT across domestic and public charging, investigate creative incentives for consumers to go electric, and speed up grid connections for the public charging network.

Ian Plummer, commercial director, Auto Trader

Return to form

With one million units produced and manufacturing numbers back up to pre-pandemic levels, 2023 signalled something of a return to form for the UK manufacturing industry.

The record output of electrified vehicles combined with the billions of pounds’ worth of public and private investment commitments announced last year shows the UK has the potential to become a global leader in battery and EV technology, but this potential needs to be properly recognised and leveraged in Westminster.

Interest in EVs among private owners is still not where it needs to be and it will be interesting to see whether manufacturers are prepared to lose money on each EV sold rather than face fines for missing the ZEV target.

Whatever happens, the prospects for a successful future for automotive manufacturing in the UK will be greatly enhanced by long-term government support, so manufacturers will be listening intently to policy commitments from the major parties in the run-up to the general election.

Mark Tisshaw, editor, Autocar Business

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

More stories...

Motors Advert
Server 108