The UK car industry is vaunted as a success story of UK manufacturing. Seeing as most of UK's manufactured goods are imported, it only looks like a success relative to a back drop of failure. Much of the componentry is imported. The British show almost total indifference to supporting it, so virtually all vehicles have to be exported to make it viable. The fact that they are popular elsewhere shows there is nothing wrong with the product.
Due to above mentioned attitudes, Britain is a huge importer of vehicles. Commercial vehicle manufacturing scarcely exists anymore, bus manufacturing seems the strongest part of that. It is however, a low volume product and had a poor year. So the UK fails to even make 100,000 units in the CV sector. The Ford Transit van is an icon of the UK van market but they are all imported.
If it is sounding a little bleak, I guess I just want to address the balance of organisations like the SMMT who give what I feel is a poor indicator of reality. Whoever pays the piper calls the tune so...well, I'll leave it there on that subject.
Certainly the car industry is typical of any business, totally self-centred and often devoid of anything involving integrity. The way they throw their weight around is appalling, spitting the dummy if demands aren't met. Flexibility and working around issues with quite dignity is not part of management culture it seems.
However, I digress. The car total seems to be at a peak now, likely to ebb and flow from now on. Nissan is not growing, JLR is building factories off shore for future capacity needs, MINI cannot expand where it is, Honda is making just one model now and Toyota is reliant on one model too. GM (PSA) Vauxhall is also a one model plant. Volumes are being reigned in so nothing good there. MG is finished now too.
Infiniti was a welcome addition to the fold but volume won't be huge. The rest are small fry - mainly where much of the growth is - but will have little impact on units made. So 2016 maybe just about as good as it gets, despite the 2016 +9% growth.
As for CVs, it is based around a single van model made by what is now PSA. What the future holds there won't involve expansion, I'm guessing. Maybe the reverse but for 2016 a nice increase. Leyland Trucks tick along well but the numbers aren't big. LR is gone with the end of the Defender and that really hurt CV making. All the small operators dropped in numbers and the final outcome was a -1%.
Summary: Things aren't always what they seem or what we are told is often tainted with self interest. What is true is the UK needs to get behind its manufacturing more. There is little prospect of growth irrespective of political manoeuvres. More local value should be added to the product.
Of course some of the uncertainty would be removed if the UK simply kowtowed to the EU. Threats from the Eurocentric car industry would also evapourate. However, if people think that all would then be rosy in UK vehicle manufacturing would be disappointed. It exists but only by virtue of the whims of overseas owners who would show their true colours as soon anything remotely like a head wind came their way.