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Motor industry: statistics and policy

Published Monday, December 16, 2019

Automotive manufacturing, trade, employment and policy.

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1.6 million vehicles were produced in the UK in 2018, 1.5 million cars and 85,000 commerical vehicles

Car production

  • The UK motor vehicle manufacturing industry contributed £16.6 billion to the economy in 2018, 0.8% of the whole economy’s output, and 8.5% of manufacturing output.

Economic output

  • The industry employed 166,000 people across Great Britain in 2018.


  • Automotive exports totalled £40.1 billion in 2018, imports totalled £56.0 billion, so there was trade deficit of £15.9 billion.


The industry has performed well in recent years, achieving strong growth in employment, production, economic output and exports. But the industry faces fundamental challenges, including profound shifts in global demand, environmental concerns and the advent of new technologies such as driverless cars.

Perhaps most importantly, the prospect of Brexit has significantly increased uncertainty in the industry.

The UK automotive manufacturing sector is highly integrated with the rest of Europe, in both finished cars and component parts. For instance, the UK imported £13.2 billion’s worth of vehicle engines and parts in 2018, 79% of which came from the EU. The manufacturers’ trade body (EEF) and the automotive trade body (SMMT) have both called on the Government to protect this close integration.

As part of the Industrial Strategy, the government has created a Sector Deal for the automotive sector. This focuses on the development of ultra-low emission, connected and autonomous vehicles.

Commons Briefing papers SN00611

Authors: Jennifer Brown; Chris Rhodes

Topics: Industry, International trade, Manufacturing industries

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