Despite wider Europe suffering from economic decline, the UK has exported its highest number of vehicles ever – with cars in particular leading the trend. The number of UK-built cars built for export in 2012 hit 1.21 million units, representing a rise of 7.8 per cent against the previous year.
In fact, 82 per cent of the cars we produce are now sent abroad, with facilities like Nissan’s Sunderland plant and Toyota GB’s site in Derbyshire now fulfilling the entire European market’s supply of models like the Qashqai and Auris.
Commercial vehicle production did suffer somewhat, however. The number built for export fell by 8.1 per cent in 2012, with just 63,000 sent abroad. Engine production also dropped, with 11.6 per cent less units exported than in 2011.
More positively though, our market is demanding more car and engine production than the year before: 15.4 per cent more cars and 26.2 per cent more engines were built for the UK.
Volumes of production overall were also good: At 1.58 million units, they reached their highest levels since 2008. SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt was understandably pleased by the news. ‘2012 was a very good year for UK car production with record levels of exports and volumes at their highest since 2000,’ he said.
‘The outlook for 2013 remains positive with demand in many faster growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies. The £6 billion of investment committed to UK facilities, new model programmes and R&D signals a bright future and many new opportunities for companies in the supply chain.
‘These remain extremely challenging times and it is essential industry and government continue to work together to secure long-term industrial growth.’
Business secretary Vince Cable was also positive, commenting: ‘News that UK car production increased by 9% in 2012 and exports are at record levels is a great tribute to our manufacturing strengths, particularly in the face of challenging trading conditions in Europe and strong international competition.
‘The UK is achieving success by making products that are in demand across the world. We have a diverse and innovative automotive sector with some of the most productive plants in the world and a flexible, skilled and committed workforce.’