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UK Automobile Industry Profile

Gujing From| June 11,2007

The automotive manufacturing sector contributes around £10bn added value to the economy, and accounts for 1.1% of GDP, 6.9% of manufacturing value-added and 11% of total UK exports of goods. Some 210,000 people are employed in the design and manufacturing of vehicles and components.  The West Midlands remains the heart of the industry in the UK with around 23% of the industry being based in the region. The UK is home to the world's most successful motor sport industry as well as a range of smaller producers serving specialist markets such as sports and luxury cars, and London taxis. 19 of the top 20 global tier one suppliers and around 20 leading independent automotive design firms also have a base in the UK. 

The automotive industry is a pivotal part of the UK manufacturing sector. Automotive firms are leaders in global best practice in many areas of manufacturing and provide a key source of improvement for the UK manufacturing sector as a whole.  The UK industry as a whole needs to make up ground in terms of productivity but the productivity record of the best firms here show that UK based operations can match and exceed the best of their rivals.

The UK Automotive industry has two distinct parts; manufacture of vehicles and components, and sales, service and aftermarket services, each having their own characteristics. Manufacturing is subject to global demand issues, whilst the motor trade exists to satisfy UK consumer needs.

UK Automobile Industry Profile


Car manufacturing in Britain
The UK has the most diverse range of car producers of any country in the world. The volume car producers that manufacture in the UK are BMW, VW, Ford, Honda, Nissan, PSA, Toyota and GM.

Britain also has a wide range of specialist producers serving niche markets such as sports and track day cars, classic replicas and even an amphibious car. Car production peaked in 1999 at 1.8m, the highest for 25 years. After falling off in 2000 production is now increasing at most of the major UK producers.

In 2004, 1,646,773 cars were produced, 72%of which were for export.  UK automotive exports, including cars, commercial vehicles and a wide range of components, generate more than £20bn annually in overseas sales. This makes automotive the UK's biggest manufacturing export sector.

The automotive industry and its supply chain form one of the most important strategic industries within the European economy.The global volume of the automobile supply industry amounts to E 932 billion in 1998 out of which E 695 billion for Original Equipment (O.E.) and E 237 billion for replacement activities in the aftermarket.

The aftermarket is the part of the automotive component industry that provides services and equipment - parts, accessories, consumables etc - for the motor vehicle after it has gone into use. Most consumers come in to contact with the aftermarket through the retail sector - garages, bodyshops, fastfits and other specialist service operators. In 1998 there were around 2,000 UK component manufacturers supplying the Aftermarket Industry through approximately 2,500 distribution outlets and 55,000 retail outlets.

The UK automotive components industry is characterised by large internationally-owned manufacturers at the top of the supply chain, many UK and foreign-owned companies directly supplying vehicle manufacturers (the first tier component suppliers), and a large number of mainly small and medium-sized second and third tier suppliers. The first tier suppliers are the primary force in the UK; the turnover of the top ten companies is equivalent to 70 per cent of the industry's total sales.

UK Automobile Industry Profile 

Useful Contact Points: Europe
Increasingly the UK Aftermarket is being regulated by Regulations, Directives and Decisions made by the EU. The EU provides a great deal of explanation and information about European Legislation via their website. A number of Government Departments have realized that Industry as well as individual members of the public require information about EU and UK government policy so a number of contact points have been identified who will attempt to answer all enquiries.

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