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Motor industry: statistics and policy

Published Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The motor vehicle manufacturing industry in the UK: statistics and policy.

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Key statistics:

  • There were 1.75 million vehicles producedin the UK in 2017, 1.67 million of which were passenger vehicels and 78,000 of which were commerical vehicles.


  • The UK motor vehicle manufacturing industry contributed £15.2 billion to the economy in 2017, 0.8% of total output, but 8.1% of manufacturing output.

Gross Value Added

  • The industry employed 162,000 people across Great Britain in 2016.


  • 75 million vehicles were produced in the UK in 2017, 80% of which were exported
  • The value of exports totalled £34.3 billion in 2016, but imports totalled £40.8 billion, so a trade deficit of £6.6 billion was recorded.


  • There were 2.5 million car registrations in 2017, the third highest annual total in the last ten years.


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

And the UK’s decision to leave the EU has increased uncertainty in the industry, although some argue that the opportunity to strike new trade deals will off-set any additional complexity in the UK-EU trading relationship.

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 £13.95 billion’s worth of vehicle engines and parts in 2017, 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.

The Government’s industrial strategy for the automotive sector focuses on the development of ultra-low emission, connected and autonomous vehicles. Against the backdrop of emission scandals, the diesel share of the new car market has started to decline, and is forecast to continue to do so.

Commons Briefing papers SN00611

Authors: Jennifer Brown; Chris Rhodes

Topics: Industry, International trade, Manufacturing industries

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