Recent figures have revealed that the UK automotive industry experienced impressive growth in 2023, producing over one million vehicles—an increase of 17.0%, the highest since 2019. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported a total production of 1,025,474 units, consisting of 905,117 cars and 120,357 commercial vehicles.
The industry is one that has shown resilience as it navigated post-pandemic challenges. Significant achievements included the production of eight new models, including those from the recently reopened Ellesmere Port EV-only plant.
In 2023, the sector attracted a substantial £23.7 billion in investments, aimed at fostering green economic growth, creating jobs, and supporting the transition to electrified vehicle manufacturing. Electric vehicle production saw a significant upturn, with battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and hybrid (HEV) vehicles reaching 346,451 units—accounting for 38.3% of overall output.
As the industry transitions to electrified vehicles, there's an increasing need for accurate measurement processes. Metrology, focusing on precision measurement and quality assurance, becomes crucial in ensuring components meet stringent standards. This growth presents opportunities for manufacturers to invest in advanced measurement technologies to maintain high standards for electric and hybrid vehicle production, aligning with the commitment to innovation and sustainability.
UK & Ireland Sales Manager for Bowers Group, Ryan Kingswell, said: "This is really positive news for the automotive industry, and UK manufacturing as a whole. However, it does prompt businesses to think more carefully about their processes to ensure they’re able to keep on top of the increasing demand, particularly as EV vehicles drive growth. At Bowers Group, we work with many companies within the auto sector and understand the needs for quality and accuracy in their production lines, and if investment in this area has been on the backburner for a while, now is certainly the time to reach out.”
Despite facing challenges, the UK automotive sector maintained its global presence, with exports playing a crucial role. While 191,247 cars were manufactured for the domestic market, exports increased by 17.6%, with the European Union remaining the largest market, capturing 60.3% of total exports. The US and China also secured sizable shares of UK automotive exports, with exports to Turkey experiencing a significant surge, making it the UK's fourth-largest global market.
Even with global challenges, the sector is focused on maintaining competitiveness and achieving further growth. The deferral of tougher rules of origin for batteries and electric vehicles traded between the UK and the EU provided a boost, safeguarding the sector's competitiveness.
Rapid implementation of the government's Advanced Manufacturing Plan, adopting recommendations from the Harrington Review, and positioning the automotive sector at the heart of trade negotiations are seen as crucial steps to solidify the UK's recovery and establish global leadership in the evolving field of electrified vehicle production. The industry anticipates a modest 3% rise in car and light van output in 2024, with the potential to exceed 1.2 million units by the end of the decade.