Many nations do not make cars, but simply import them. That makes them a 100% net importer. Of the car making nations, they vary as to whether they are a net importer or exporter of cars.
Taking the UK as an example, it imports more cars than it makes, thereby becoming a net importer. On average for the last ten years, the UK has imported about 35% more than what it has exported. It could have been more so, except that as its own industry declined, Japanese firms opened up factories to compensate. Those Japanese firms have shown loyalty to those production facilities too. This is in contrast to Peugeot, who having bought the once Rootes Group/ Chrysler operation, later built factories in low wage countries and shut it down. That is how PSA treat a country loyal to its product. Hmmm.
So who are the main contributors to UK car making? Below there is the number of cars made, number sold in the UK under that brand and then finally the difference. If the last figure is positive, that brand is a net exporter (in bold type), if it is negative, a net importer (in italicised type):
1 Nissan 423,000 80,000 333,000
2 MINI 216,000 40,000 174,000
3 Land Rover 183,000 37,000 146,000
4 Honda 139,000 64,000 75,000
5 Toyota 137,000 87,000 50,000
6 Jaguar 56,000 16,000 40,000
7 Vauxhall 103,000 247,000 –144,000
Total 1,270,000 2,031,000 –761,000
Also to be noted is that the UK is a large car engine making country too. So if you applied the same system to that, it comes up quite different.
For 2010, the UK made 2,387,000 car engines, so exported more engines than were in cars sold in that country. That makes the UK a net exporter of engines to the tune of 356,000 units, or put another way, 17.5% more were exported than were sold in cars. I hope my figures make sense.
I have yet to get a breakdown of engines made by company for 2010, but in 2009, Ford made 1,430,000 in the UK, BMW 362,000, Nissan 109,000, Toyota 89,000, Honda 60,000 (the main contributors).
Summary: Although not what it used to be, the UK car industry is still doing well, including quite a bit of design work too.
Source: Mainly SMMT.
Photo: Celebrating 6,000,000 Nissans built in the UK. Model shown the new UK designed and built Juke.