Jaguar Land Rover eclipses Nissan to become UK's largest car manufacturer
Steve Cropley Autocar
21 January 2016

More new cars were built in Britain last year than in any of the past 10 years, with exports also hitting an all-time record high, according to figures released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In another step towards the all-time production record of 1.92 million cars, set in 1972 - which the SMMT has previously said it expects carmakers to eclipse in the next four years - total sales of UK-built cars rose 3.9% to 1,587,677 units. While the SMMT chief Mike Hawes is still predicting output will eclipse 1.92m cars by 2020, he cautioned that the growth hinged on the continued emergence of Europe from recession and stability and growth in other world markets.

"We are confident of breaking the record by 2020, but there are a lot of factors at play, from continued demand in the UK, through to our membership of the European Union being resolved and on to other geo-social factors that could impact on demand in large markets," said Hawes.

A record 1,227,881 units (or a 77.3%) were exported, despite waning sales in China (down 37.5%) and Russia (down 69.4%). These declines were easily offset by rising demand from EU countries - up 11.3% to 1,227,881 units or an impressive 57.5% of exports - and the US, which became the world’s biggest buyer of British-built cars outside Europe.

Home market demand for locally built cars was also strong, rising 8.1% to 359,796 units to correct a previous-year decline. According to the SMMT, eight all-new models were launched from UK car factories during 2015, and £1.76 billion of new investment was committed to the sector.

Welcoming the industry’s success, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes took the opportunity to underscore his support for the UK’s membership of the EU.

“Continued growth in an intensely competitive global marketplace is far from guaranteed,” he said, “and it depends heavily on global economic conditions and political stability. Europe is our biggest trading partner and the UK’s membership of the European Union is vital.”

Welcoming the figures, Chancellor George Osborne also sounded a cautious note. “Our plans to rebalance the economy mean we have to continue to build on our great manufacturing strengths in the Midlands and the North of England,” he said. The importance of continuing UK automotive success is underlined by recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show UK average manufacturing output slowing in recent months."

Jaguar Land Rover beats Nissan to become UK's largest car maker

Jaguar Land Rover has beaten long-time leader Nissan to become the UK’s biggest car manufacturer, a position it has never previously held in the combined 70-year history of its constituent companies.

The SMMT figures show that JLR’s production rose 50,400 units (or 9%) to 489,923 units, beating Nissan (whose production declined 4.7% to 476,589) by 13,334 units. Nissan's Sunderland plant - which is 30 years old this year - still remains the largest car factory in UK manufacturing history, however.

Jaguar's rise follows a period of £11 billion of investment since Tata took control of the company in 2009. At that time, annual production stood at 158,000 units. In that time the firm's workforce has also doubled, to 35,000 UK workers. The firm has also announced plans to invest more than £3 billion in UK facilities during the 2015/2016 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Honda's UK car production declined marginally to 119,414 units, in the year that saw the launch new CR-V, Civic and Jazz models, all built at its Swindon plant.

All other major UK carmakers expanded sales, however. Mini scored the biggest rise (up 12.4% to 201,207 units), while Vauxhall was up 9.5% to 85,241 units and Toyota rose by 10.4% to 190,161 units.

Read more: Nissan invests £26.5m in Sunderland battery plant

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21 January 2016
Makes you think if BMW had kept Land Rover then they'd be the biggest car maker in the UK by some margin. Bet they wish they'd kept the company now as Jaguar will very gradually grow stronger alongside Land Rover and could become a real competitor to them....

21 January 2016
would have been a good idea. The cars built by Jaguar and Land Rover are in direct competition with BMW. Whilst I have no desire to ever own either a Jaguar or a Land Rover (or BMW tbh), I do think it's great that they've been able to tread there own path to success. BMW keeping MINI on the other hand made perfect sense as they had no car of their own that fit the bill.

21 January 2016
But it's not a record high is it? What a strange article!

21 January 2016
By value the 1972 record was demolished years ago even after allowing for inflation ,just think back at what was made low price and quality Allegro,marina Escortand mini etcand now in the main they ARE TOP CLASS LUXURY CARS.Even minis are twice the price of what an original mini would have been if still in production.

21 January 2016
But in 72 they were competitive with cars built anywhere else. What's your point exactly?

21 January 2016
End of story no explaining required

21 January 2016
Plus the vast majority of cars made in the UK are still "normal" cars: Nissan, Toyota, Honda, vauxhalls

21 January 2016
Did anyone see Jim Holder getting interviewed on BBC 1 Breakfast about this at Solihull? He looked so nervous. Sounds like he didn't prepare the delivery before hand. The dude probably needs to go on a course, probably NOT one run by the guy who prepped Ed Milliband, who was similarly nervy.

21 January 2016
No doubt everyone's most patriotic/nationalist Facebook friends will be proudly sharing this news story tonight, while continuing to believe that it's imperative we leave the EU at the first opportunity.

21 January 2016
nettingham wrote:

No doubt everyone's most patriotic/nationalist Facebook friends will be proudly sharing this news story tonight, while continuing to believe that it's imperative we leave the EU at the first opportunity.

I fail to see how being in the EU has any bearing on the success or not of car making in the UK.
If we leave the EU and the EU in a temper fit impose import duties on UK made cars surely we would just do the same. As we import more value of cars from EU than we sell to them they would be the losers as UK buyers would reduce their purchases of German cars as their prices rose with extra taxes levied upon them in retaliation for any EU imposed taxes upon UK exports to EU.


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