With the latest news on UK manufacturing less than positive, based on latest monthly statistics, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has offered something worthy of celebration, taking a rather longer term view than a single month.
The organisation has issued a statement saying: "UK automotive manufacturers have set their sights on breaking all-time manufacturing records by the end of 2015. The confidence is fuelled by multi-billion pound investments committed to the country over the past 18 months that will see production expanded, new models introduced and thousands more people employed." More than £5.5 billion has been invested in the sector over that period, in fact.
If achieved, the country could surpass the 1972 record of 1.92 million cars produced, with over two million units rolling off domestic manufacturing lines in 2015. There is a 'but', however. This achievement relies on eurozone stability, and ongoing government support and collaboration.
Nevertheless, achieving annual car manufacturing volumes in excess of two million units would equate to an increase in manufacturing output of more than 50% over 2011's level of 1.3 million units, says SMMT.
On average, the UK manufactures 1.5 million cars and commercial vehicles and over 2.5 million engines annually – 80% of total vehicles and 70% of engines are exported. Automotive is the UK's largest sector, in terms of exports, and generates around £30 billion of annual export revenue. In a typical year, the sector delivers to over 100 markets worldwide and accounts for around 11% of total UK exports.
"The UK automotive industry is leading economic recovery with increased manufacturing output, growing export volumes and new jobs being created on the back of major international investment in the sector. Our engineering expertise, workforce flexibility and renowned motoring heritage, combined with top level collaboration between industry and government, makes the UK an important location for the global automotive industry," says Paul Everitt, SMMT's chief executive.
"The UK has attracted unprecedented levels of new investment and has a tremendous opportunity to see vehicle manufacturing rise to record levels in the years ahead. To remain globally competitive, it is essential that industry and government continue to work in partnership, and that key eurozone markets return to sustainable levels of economic growth," he continues.
Now that all sounds better than the hysterical newspaper headlines about UK manufacturing's monthly ups and downs, don't you think? Let's not let the headline writers take the shine of this very positive development.
First published in Machinery, July 2012
Author: Andrew Allcock