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UK’s specialist car makers take to fast lane with 60 per cent production boost by 2020

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New report confirms UK’s low volume, high value car manufacturing sector is world’s largest

The UK’s specialist, low volume car manufacturing industry is set to enjoy a 60 per cent production boost by 2020, thanks to increasing global demand, according to new analysis published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
 
The UK Specialist Car Manufacturers Report 2017 confirms Britain is home to the largest and most diverse specialist car manufacturing sector in the world, with some of the most globally recognised and iconic brands. The sector is a global leader in engineering, design and craftsmanship, producing a wide range of cutting-edge products, from high performance sports cars, luxury grand tourers and SUVs, to electric taxis and wheelchair accessible vehicles. 
 
Latest figures show that in 2016 these car makers turned over a collective £3.6 billion, up 52 per cent from 2012. In addition, they employed 11,250 people – an 11.5 per cent increase on five years ago – the majority in highly skilled, specialist roles, while also supporting tens of thousands additional jobs across the supply chain. Thanks to an increasing number of affluent buyers and new markets taking an increasing interest in performance driving and luxury models, production is on an upward trend. Output has risen by a quarter (25 per cent) since 2012 and, by 2020, it is forecast to surge 60 per cent, from the current 32,000 units to some 52,000.

The sector is an important contributor to the UK economy, with 65 per cent of the vehicles it produces exported to markets worldwide, including the EU, US, China, Japan and the Gulf States. Meanwhile, it supports an equally diverse UK supply chain, sourcing, on average, two thirds (65 per cent) of vehicle content from local tier one companies and a further 30 per cent from across the wider EU. 

The industry therefore needs political leadership that delivers a competitive environment, globally, and a future relationship with the EU that safeguards as many of the benefits that we currently enjoy as possible. 

The ability to influence global industry standards and regulations post Brexit is also of significant concern. Major advances in light-weighting, including the use of carbon fibre and composites, as well as aerodynamics and powertrain electrification, have often been led by specialist car brands in the UK. To support this high-tech innovation, specialist car manufacturers need regulations that recognise their specific requirements such as limited production runs, investment levels and niche skills, which differ from those of brands making cars for the mass market.




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