Automotive manufacturing industry in the UK - statistics & facts

In the mid-20th century, the automobile manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom (UK) was the second largest in the world. Today, production is mainly focused on a few remaining British prestige brands and commercial vehicles, while also housing plants of foreign manufacturers such as Nissan, Ford, and BMW. Still, the automotive industry remains a vital part of the UK economy. The motor industry contributes about 15.3 billion British pounds to the country’s economy and is an employer to more than 860,000 people. The manufacturing sector of the UK automotive industry provides around 180,000 jobs alone.

Car production in 2020 the worst since 1984

Passenger car production in the United Kingdom fell between 2003 and 2008 as rail transport took over some passenger transport demand. Furthermore, the industry was hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008: car production fell by over 30 percent in 2009. After recovering from the subsequent recession, vehicle manufacturing faced new challenges. Weakening demand for motor vehicles internationally, Brexit uncertainty, and the Dieselgate scandal contributed to less activity in the industry between 2016 and 2019. Around 1,000 automotive manufacturing jobs were lost during this time with more expected to follow. The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly difficult for the industry. Car output was almost 30 percent lower in 2020 compared to the previous year, totaling around 900,000 passenger cars and 66,000 commercial vehicles, the lowest output since 1984. As a result, some 10,000 jobs were lost in the UK automotive sector in 2020. Cascading effects of the pandemic, especially the global chip shortage and disruptions to supply chains worldwide, caused further problems to the industry. The first half of 2021, thus, did not see much improvement: production output was roughly 38 percent down from the first-half average over the past five years, and manufacturers were struggling with a labor shortage.

UK auto production largely export-oriented

The majority of the vehicles manufactured in the UK in 2020 – some 750,000 passenger cars and 38,000 commercial vehicles – were exported from the country. The European Union was the largest market for UK-manufactured vehicle exports, both in terms of passenger cars and commercial vehicles. In 2020, the 27 member states of the union were the destination for every second passenger car and almost 95 percent of commercial vehicles exported from the UK.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 31 most important statistics relating to "Automotive manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom".

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