The Aston Martin Valkyrie will be one of Britain’s fastest hypercars
Progress in Britain’s fast-expanding car sector could be halted if trade deals aren’t made
The UK’s specialist and low-volume vehicle industry has surged in value by 52% in five years – but experts warn a bad Brexit deal could put the brakes on progress.
Output of Britain’s low-volume car makers, which collectively employ 11,250 people, has grown by 25% since 2012, increasing the sector’s contribution to the economy to £3.2 billion.
Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) show that a continuation of this could see annual production reach 52,000 vehicles in 2020, a growth of 60% on today.
But SMMT CEO Mike Hawes has highlighted the sensitivity of Britain’s low-volume sector during Brexit negotiations, stating that a good deal for trade will be vital to prevent one of Britain’s greatest industries from being held back.
“Our specialist car manufacturing sector is one of the UK’s global success stories – making world-leading products and pioneering next-generation technologies that benefit everyone,” he said.
“For this to continue, we need certainty on Britain’s future trading relationships, including customs plans, market access, regulations governing the design, production and approval of vehicles, and rules around movement of skilled workers.”
Britain’s low-volume car manufacturers – comprising supercar makers such as McLaren, luxury companies such as Rolls-Royce, the recently relaunched TVR and sports car brands including Lotus – have pushed the sector’s exports to represent 65% of sales. Meanwhile, 30% of components used in the sector’s cars are sourced from the European Union.
Hawes, whose organisation represents the UK car industry, has called on the Government to set out the best regulations to ensure trade barriers and tariffs aren’t introduced.
“This will provide the assurance the sector needs to remain competitive and make investment decisions that enable it to continue to develop innovative, exciting and desirable products that are the envy of the world,” Hawes explained.
McLaren has cemented itself as one of the UK’s low-volume car sector success stories. The brand celebrated a record-breaking 2016 when sales reached 3286 units. The Woking car maker made £9.2 million, a rise of 70% on the previous year.
In addition, the industry has just seen the rebirth of TVR, which is building a production facility in Wales and plans to launch the Griffith sports car. Aston Martin is also rapidly increasing its assets with a new Welsh plant and is producing a 1000bhp hypercar called the Valkyrie as a new halo model.