06 February 2018

UK Production Overview : 2017

You hear a lot of rubbish in the media about why things happen. I question everything I read. Too often personal agendas are the basis of opinion rather than an honest appraisal. So let's get see to what's happening in UK vehicle production and find out what's going on.

Car production: 1,671,166. -3%. 20% local, 80% exported.

Nothing too startling there. It's the first decrease since 2009 but the second part of the year was the worst with December being very poor. Not a good outlook.

CV production: 78,219. -17%. 38% local, 62% export. I've got data going back to 1945 and this is the second worst year in that time. This is an appalling situation that is probably going to get worse.

Engine production: 2,722,325. +7%. Local 45%, export 55%.

This is the best figure since 2008. JLR is the main reason for the recent improvement.

Fall in sales: The UK car market was similar in size to France and Italy for many years but in recent times, the UK pulled away. This led me to the conclusion that the market was above where it should be. There was always going to be a downward shift and it's here. Issues over future diesel engine vehicles restrictions adds to the fall, as will the petulant attitude of the EU over Brexit but the market needed to drop sometime. The industry needs to man up and get on with it.

Local penetration: Considering how many car makers are in the UK, the fact is their combined share is meager. Some countries with few car manufacturers manage to give their manufacturers generous support. So how do all these car makers in the UK only take 13% of the total? A mixture of people not knowing many of the models that are being made there (ignorance) and for others an indifference to buying local that is extremely egocentric.

Investment: The present manufacturers have been around for many years because UK hasn't attracted investment from new companies for a long time. All of JLR's production expansion will be overseas for the foreseeable future. Car makers want to sell cars in the UK by the shipload but they don't want to build anything there. I guess the lack of local support they would get from the public for their efforts would put anyone off. I can only see production volume going down from here in the near future.

Summary: They say in the end you get what you deserve and the UK doesn't really deserve much of a car industry. People around the world buy UK made cars but the locals would rather buy imported ones. So forget all the politically motivated rhetoric about why things are as they are. The best antidote to a production downturn would be more local support (as I typed that I started laughing).

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