Britain set to be Europe's number two car maker

Britain's car industry will rev up in the next five years to overtake France thanks to increasing demand from China, according to industry executives.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 23 Jan 2014
Increasing demand from emerging economies such as China mean UK plants run by the likes of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), BMW and Nissan are operating at close to full capacity and could soon outshine the rest of Europe, according to a newspaper report.

Britain will produce more cars than their French rivals by 2018 if the trend continues, according to Tim Abbott, MD of BMW’s UK operations. ‘All the indications appear to be saying Britain will be second in a few years,’ he told the Telegraph at the SMMT automotive conference in London.

More than a million cars are made in the UK each year, and this could double to 2.2 million by 2016, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders predicts.

Earlier this week the government championed the UK car industry as one of 11 sectors key to the UK’s future growth and prosperity. An Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) will be set up to attract more overseas investment into the UK’s car manufacturing sector, the government announced. It will be led by former Ford chairman, Joe Greenwell, and have a budget of £3m for the next two years.

Recent investments in UK car plants have prompted hopes that the UK’s car industry, struggling a few years ago, is going through a resurgence.

But the downside is that many firms are importing a large proportion of their components from overseas. ‘On average only a third of the parts that go into cars manufactured here are sourced from the UK,’ said business secretary Vince Cable, co-chair of the Automotive Council, which will give strategic direction to the AIO.

All in all, this is good news for the UK economy. But if we’re so good at making cars, it does seem a bit of a shame that all the big factories here are now foreign owned…

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