Record exports lift UK car production in 2012
Record exports last year lifted British car production to its highest level since 2007, and experts see a steady rise in output for years to come. Britain produced a total of 1.46 million vehicles in 2012, up 9 percent on 2011, with 1.21 million of those sold abroad, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said today.
December's car output climbed to 101,740 vehicles, up 6.2 percent on the previous year.
"The outlook for 2013 remains positive, with demand in many faster-growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies," SMMT CEO Paul Everitt said in a release.
2 million units?
The SMMT said that 50 percent of Britain's exports went outside the European Union.
If demand outside Europe continues to rise, some industry watchers believe that UK production could increase nearly 40 percent in the next four years.
"The medium-term prospects of the UK car industry remain excellent and UK vehicle production could hit the 2-million mark in 2016," John Leech, UK head of automotive at consultancy KPMG, told Automotive News Europe in an e-mail. "This will be driven by new vehicle production plans in place at Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and other UK car plants that should be resilient to continuing euro-zone weakness."
Garel Rhys, president for the Centre of Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University, told Automotive News Europe that UK output could rise to 2.2 million as early as 2015.
LMC Automotive is less bullish, forecasting UK production at 1.61 million in 2017.
The country's largely foreign-owned car industry has been one of the few bright spots in the British economy, which needs all the help it can get to avoid a third period of contraction since the 2008 financial crisis.
On Sunday, Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors, said that it plans to create 800 jobs at a factory in central England to help it to meet rising demand for its premium cars in China and elsewhere.
Reuters and Automotive News Europe contributed to this reportContact Automotive News