06 November 2015

Mature Market Vehicle Production : UK

Some great cars from Austin back in the 1960's

The UK car manufacturing industry has had had its ups and downs and ups. In the 1950's it emerged as a successful industry, went into decline in the 1970s', had a brief gain from the late 1980's, slipped a little and making a small comeback at this point. Below is what I mean.


Year Vehicle Car CV % CV

1950 784,000 523,000 261,000 33.3%

1955 1,237,000 898,000 339,000 27.4%

1960 1,811,000 1,353,000 458,000 25.3%

1965 2,177,000 1,722,000 455,000 20.9%

1970 2,098,000 1,641,000 457,000 21.8%

1975 1,648,000 1,267,000 381,000 23.1%

1980 1,313,000 924,000 389,000 29.6%

1985 1,314,000 1,048,000 266,000 20.2%

1990 1,566,000 1,296,000 270,000 17.2%

1995 1,765,000 1,532,000 233,000 13.2%

2000 1,814,000 1,642,000 172,000 9.5%

2005 1,803,000 1,596,000 207,000 11.5%

2010 1,390,000 1,271,000 119,000 8.6%

2014 1,599,000 1,528,000 71,000 4.4%

Looking at some peaks and troughs for the period from 1950-2014:

Car Production: High 1972 1,921,000 / Low 1952 448,000.
Commercial High: 1969 466,000 / Low 2014 71,000
Total Production High: 1964 2,332,000 / Low 1952 699,000.

Car production: It passed 1 million in 1958 but has never reached 2 million. It dropped under the million mark from 1980 to 1984 (except 1983) and has been over the million since 1985 (except 2009). Over that last few decades whenever revival seemed imminent, a car maker went. Reaching the record figure seems unlikely although growth is going well for now. 

Commercial Vehicle production: This is one area that the UK was powerful in but now scarcely registers. Many van and truck brands have gone, and with the recent departure of the Ford Transit all seemed lost. For now Vauxhall, DAF and Land Rover are the three volume CV manufacturers with the LR Defender to go this year. Bus production is going well but is relatively limited in numbers. 

Total production: 1 million was passed in 1954, 2 million in 1963 to 1973 (except 1967). Since then always under the 2 figure. With such poor CV volume, 2 million will not happen again.

Summary: The fact is as a country with higher costs than many other nations, attracting new car makers is virtually impossible now. Infiniti is just starting production as a new marque to the UK but the numbers will be modest and it is part of the Nissan operation in Sunderland. As long as all present car makers remain, then UK car production will be stable. The glory days are over but it is so much better than it could have been.

Austin picture source: Classic Car Catalogue.

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