The past month has brought two reasons to celebrate the burgeoning car industry in the UK – despite more financial doom and gloom impacting the rest of the European Union.
According to data released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), car production has reached a four-year peak with 1.46 million units built by UK factories in 2012. An estimated 1.21 million of those cars were then shipped abroad for sale, resulting in what’s also been a record-breaking year for car exports; the highest reported figures in the history of the UK’s car-making industry. Production and exports are both up by almost a tenth each – totals which stick out like a sore thumb compared with how the rest of the continent has fared.
Data gathered by The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) to represent Europe’s sales in 2012 indicated overall shrinkage of almost a tenth – with an 8.2% decrease in new passenger car registrations; most notably a drop of 16.3% in December compared to previous final months of the year, and the steepest since 2008. The total of 12,053,904 units registered over the whole year represents the fewest since 1995.
With current cars still hanging around in European showrooms, much is being done to discuss how best to bounce back from the manufacturing doldrums – with some suppliers having already taken steps to cut down on production; as reported earlier on the Motors blog Opel will close its Bochum plant in Germany once the next production cycle of the Zafirer Tourer car winds down.
Despite these setbacks on the continent, UK manufacturers will doubtless be encouraged by their tallies. Business Secretary Vince Cable said, “News that UK car production increased by 9% in 2012 and exports are at record levels is a great tribute to our manufacturing strengths, particularly in the face of challenging trading conditions in Europe and strong international competition.”