The number of cars made in the UK reached 1.7 million last year – the highest in 17 years – according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Vanarama Content Editor Tom Roberts reports.
In total, there are 15 car plants in the UK directly employing 169,000 workers and 814,000 across the motor sector – the UK's importance to this sector is clear as day. The top 10 British best-sellers worldwide last year were the Nissan Qashqai, Toyota Auris, Mini, Vauxhall Astra, Range Rover Sport and Evoque, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Honda Civic, Jaguar F-Pace and Jaguar XE.
UK car exports to EU countries increased by 7.5% to 758,680 last year, accounting for half of all exports, the SMMT said. There was also a big rise in car exports to the US, where demand jumped by almost half, accounting for around 14% of all UK car exports.
Brexit warnings from the SMMT
The SMMT added that exports rose 10.3% to 1.35 million vehicles, a record for the second consecutive year, but SMMT head Mike Hawes repeated warnings that an unsuitable Brexit trade would damage investment.
He said that car production was on course to reach an all-time high before 2020. But the SMMT's statement seems cautious after it revealed that investment by the industry fell to £1.66 billion last year, compared with about £2.5 billion in recent years. Mr Hawes has already told MPs on the Treasury Committee that carmakers are putting off investment until there is more information on the UK's trade relations with the EU.
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