UK-based car manufacturing plants could still make a record two million cars by 2020 - but hitting that goal hinges on positive government support for the industry in the wake of the Brexit vote, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The news comes as the UK car manufacturing industry recorded its 11th consecutive month of growth, building 158,641 cars, up 10.4% month-on-month. That figure confirmed the industry’s best performance in the first six months of a year for 16 years and is the highest figure for June since 1998. Jaguar Land Rover is currently the biggest car maker in Britain, having eclipsed Nissan’s output from its Sunderland plant in 2015.
The rise was driven by exports, with demand in 2016 up 14.9% and accounting for 695,139 units of the total of 897,157 manufactured to date. Production for the home market also rose 7.1%. Britain is Europe’s third largest car manufacturer, behind Germany and Spain.
“It’s clear that the current mood of political and economic uncertainty is praying on the minds of the car industry,” said the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes. “But the industry will do its best to manage its way through this situation.
“There is still a chance that UK car manufacturing could hit two million units by 2020, as we were predicting pre-Brexit. A lot will depend on being able to secure investment to build plants for new products, and to do that we need a clear signal from government that the UK remains open for business and is committed to free trade.
“Brexit creates uncertainty, but we can point to the productivity record of the plants here - which are the best in Europe, or among the best, and as long as we remain competitive and prove we can deliver then we can fight for that investment.”