2012 UK car exports and manufacturing a tale of two halves

Car manufacturing and export figures for 2012 have been released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) , and it’s a tale of two halves, premium car manufacturing versus mainstream.

The SMMT has confirmed that UK manufacturing and exports exceeded 1.2 million units last year, with both benchmarks exceeding previous records. The figures demonstrate that European manufacturing is a tale of two halves: premium and mainstream. The premium manufacturing and exports are booming, however some mainstream is struggling just to survive.

The UK’s main production area is in the premium sector with Jaguar Land Rover and MINI leading the way – along with Bentley, Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce. It clearly demonstrates a boom time exists as British manufacturing expands into growing markets with very desirable products.

The rise of Nissan’s Washington production operation clearly shows that some mainstream niche manufacturing is also on the rise. When it moved from producing the Almera and Primera to manufacturing the Qashqai crossover small MPV, growth followed. It is now by some margin the UK’s largest car manufacturer.


Overall, total vehicle manufacturing grew by 8 per cent to 1.58 million units in 2012.  1.46 million were cars – representing a 9 per cent year over year rise. That somewhat matched the rise in exports of 8 per cent over 2011.

Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive commented, ‘2012 was a very good year for UK car production with record levels of exports and volumes at their highest since 2008. The outlook for 2013 remains positive with demand in many faster growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies.’