21 April 2014

UK Net Car Importer Again In 2013

The Nissan Leaf, this one many go across the North Sea to Norway.

For many years now the UK have been a net importer of cars. Despite recent gains in local production, it cannot get near an even import/export balance by volume. If it was based on value, it would look much better, but the chart below is for numbers of cars.

How I work it out is find out how many cars were made by manufacturer, their total UK sales and the net difference is 'UK sales subtracted from 'Made'. If you take the -33.3(%) as the 'Net importer' figure off UK sales, you come up with the total UK made number. It is just a way of showing the difference.

Now I have run this back to 1990 and this is how it has panned out. The 1990 net importer figure was -35.5%, so nothing much has changed over these decades. MG Rover was top of the list then and is now gone. Nissan was importing more than it made and Peugeot was nearly a neutral figure.

The best figure from 1990 in 1992, with a-18.9% when Ford and Vauxhall were still making many cars in the UK. The worst year was 2009 with 49.9% with the big crash in Europe. In 2012, it was 28.3% so the UK went backwards in 2013. Booming domestic car sales is the reason for that, with the UK exporting most vehicles it makes.

2013 UK Made UK Sales Net Diff

Nissan 502.000 118.000 384.000

Land Rover 340.000 55.000 285.000

Mini 175.000 52.000 123.000

Toyota 179.000 89.000 90.000

Honda 139.000 56.000 83.000

Jaguar 79.000 16.000 63.000

Bentley 10.000 1.000 9.000

Vauxhall 73.000 259.000 -186.000

Rest 13.000 1618.000 -1605.000

Total 1510.000 2264.000 -754.000

Net Importer


Nissan lead the numbers as they have since 1998. Land Rover closed the gap, while Mini fell back a bit. If Ford were still making cars and MGR had not gone to BMW, they would still be there but they're not and for any foreseeable time the UK will be a net importer of cars.

The Nissan Qashqai, an important vehicle for the UK car industry.

Data source: Thanks to the SMMT.

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