Best Year in a Decade for British Car Manufacturing as Exports Reach Record High

Jan 20, 2016, 19:01 ET from The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

LONDON, January 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

  • UK car manufacturing reaches 10-year high, growing 3.9% to 1,587,677 vehicles.
  • More cars exported than ever before, up 2.7% on 2014 at 1,227,881.
  • Domestic production surges 8.1% to meet increasing demand for British-built cars. 

British manufacturers made more cars in 2015 than any year since 2005 when 1,595,697 vehicles were produced, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Production increased 3.9% on 2014, with output at 1,587,677 overtaking pre-recession levels for the first time.[1]

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A record number of cars - representing 77.3% of production - were for export, with 1,227,881 units destined to leave the UK, up 2.7% on 2014. Challenges were experienced in some global markets such as China and Russia, but given the economic recovery in Europe, the UK's biggest trading partner has boosted demand for UK-built cars. In 2015, exports to Europe grew by 11.3%.

Meanwhile, production for the home market grew 8.1% on the previous year, with one in seven new cars registered in the UK in 2015 made in Britain.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "Despite challenges in key markets such as Russia and China, foreign demand for British-built cars has been strong, with record exports in 2015. This is down to vital investment in the sector, world class engineering and a committed and skilled UK workforce - one of the world's most productive.

"Continued growth in an intensely competitive global marketplace is far from guaranteed, however, and depends heavily on global economic conditions and political stability. Europe is our biggest trading partner and the UK's EU membership is vital for the sector to secure future growth and jobs."

UK automotive is performing very differently to overall UK manufacturing, where output has slowed recently according to Office for National Statistics figures.[2] Eight brand new car models[3] were produced in Britain in 2015, and with £2.5 billion of investment committed to the sector in 2015, more are set to follow.


    UK car manufacturing  Dec-14   Dec-15  % Change     YTD-14      YTD-15    % Change
    Total                108,721  114,842      5.6%  1,528,148   1,587,677        3.9%
    Home                  22,535   19,656    -12.8%    332,952     359,796        8.1%
    Export                86,186   95,186     10.4%  1,195,196   1,227,881        2.7%
    % export               79.3%     82.9%                78.2%       77.3%


Notes to editors 

  1. SMMT data, 2007: 1,534,567
  2. ONS:
  3. Bentley Bentayga, Infiniti Q30, Jaguar XE, Jaguar XF, Land Rover Discovery Sport, McLaren 570S, MINI Clubman, Vauxhall Astra.

About SMMT 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad. 

The automotive industry is vital to the UK economy, accounting for £69.5bn turnover, £15.5bn value added, 799,000 jobs and 11.8% of total UK export of goods. More than 30 manufacturers are supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world's most skilled engineers.

More detail available at

Broadcasters: SMMT has an ISDN studio. 

SOURCE The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders