SMMT reports on a strong year for the UK automotive industry

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has named 2011 a step-change year for the industry.

Based on the levels of international investment in the UK and long-term commitments to building new and existing vehicles and engines across the country, the prospects for automotive manufacturing are claimed to be strong.

The SMMT said that, through 2011, vehicle manufacturers have committed in excess of £4bn to projects in the UK, from the development of low-carbon technologies to the introduction of all-new models, including Aston Martin’s Cygnet city car.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘2011 has been a very significant year for the UK motor industry. We have seen a remarkable series of investment announcements by global vehicle manufacturers, with a total of £4bn of investment promised for the UK, securing new model programmes, production facilities and jobs.

‘Despite the uncertainty within the eurozone, these decisions demonstrate real confidence in the future of UK manufacturing and its role within a rebalanced economy.’

In a statement, the SMMT said that in 2011 UK automotive manufacturing reported positive results with total vehicle and engine production set to end the year more than five per cent up on 2010.

In the short term, economic stability in the eurozone and global export markets is essential to enable consistent growth.

Looking ahead five to 10 years, UK automotive manufacturing could be on course for near-record highs as new models, long-term commitments, investment and government recognition of the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy combine to stand the UK in good stead for the future.

Highlights from 2011 include Nissan’s decision to invest £192m in the design and build of the Qashqai in the UK — a move that saw 6,000 jobs safeguarded.

An additional investment of £420m was confirmed at the Sunderland plant for the production of the Nissan LEAF from 2013 and for a new standalone facility to produce lithium-ion batteries for Renault and Nissan vehicles from 2012.

Similarly, Honda recently announced the start of the mass production of the New Civic and plans to create 500 jobs at its Swindon plant to meet increased production forecasts in 2012.