The UK’s thriving automotive sector, a significant proportion of which is based in the Midlands, has announced record turnover of £69.5 billion.
Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed tunover reached a new historic high in 2014 following a 6.6 per cent increase since 2013.
Last year, car production alone grew to 1.53 million units – the highest level since 2007 – while a total of almost 1.6 million vehicles were built in the UK.
The SMMT’s 16th annual Sustainability Report confirmed the sector reached an all-time high, with manufacturing output, vehicle sales, jobs and export values rising, while the environmental impact from vehicle production was reduced.
On current trends, UK car output is expected to reach an all-time record level of 1.95 million vehicles in the next two years
The report revealed investment in more efficient, high-tech manufacturing processes has led to huge gains in productivity. In each of the five years to 2014, an average of 11.5 vehicles were produced for every person employed in the industry, compared with 9.3 vehicles for the period from 2005 to 2009.
Despite greater production volumes, environmental impact has been reduced. Total waste to landfill from all automotive production fell by more than a quarter (26.3 per cent) in 2014, and by 92.3 per cent since 2000.
Meanwhile, water and energy use fell by 10.7 per cent and 10.4 per cent respectively, while CO2 emissions per vehicle produced fell by five per cent compared with 2013.
Investment continues to be made in new and expanded production facilities in the UK, resulting in increased sector-wide recruitment, with an additional 27,000 jobs created in 2014 – a 3.5 per cent increase on the previous year.
The number of people employed in the automotive sector as a whole now stands at 799,000, with the average worker responsible for generating £440,000 in turnover for the sector.
Investment in skills has also grown, with employee training up by more than a third (35.2 per cent) and some 500 new apprentices and trainees taken on last year.
International demand for British-made vehicles also continues to increase with total export value rising 1.8 per cent to £34.6 billion – a 103.8 per cent uplift since 2000.
Jaguar Land Rover continues to be the Midlands’ automotive powerhouse, accounting for almost a third of UK car production.
In 2014 the car-maker sold 462,678 vehicles, an increase of nine per cent on the previous year, representing its fifth successive year of sales growth.
The Tata Motors-owned firm announced revenues of £21.86 billion for the year, up by £2.48 billion in 12 months.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The UK automotive industry can be proud of its achievements as it continues to set new standards.
“The sector is delivering growth in volumes, turnover and employment, while reducing its environmental impact.
“Continuing to expand in a fiercely competitive global market is a major challenge and will depend on a supportive economic and regulatory environment which promotes investment to foster innovation and continuing productivity improvements.”