► SMMT forecasts record UK car production
► Set to climb to 2m cars a year by 2020
► Would smash 1972 record of 1.92m
The UK car industry is on track to build more than 2 million cars a year for the first time in its history by 2020, a new report out today reveals.
If the forecast is accurate, that would surpass the 1.92m car production total achieved in 1972, when Britain's most popular car was the Ford Cortina (today it is the Ford Fiesta). And that could mean a deluge of employment, with an extra 9500 direct and 28,000 indirect jobs to man ever-busier factories, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
What's driving the increase in UK car production?
All the major car making groups have announced investments in the past two years, according to SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. A total of £2 billion has been announced in 2015 alone, he said, and the UK is already the third biggest manufacturing nation in Europe after Germany and Spain.
Nissan's Sunderland factory, which builds Qashqais, Jukes and Leafs (Leaves?) in record numbers, now produces more vehicles than the whole of Italy, believe it or not. But while Vauxhall, Nissan and some Japanese car makers assemble cars at some scale, it is in fact the growth of premium vehicle manufacturing which should drive the records, the SMMT claims.
'As recently as 2010, premium cars made up 37% of UK car production - and we predict that will rise to 54% by 2020,' Hawes said at the SMMT International Automotive Summit in London. Sounds like Jaguar Land Rover have a lot of catching up to do (the new XE and F-Pace families will go a long way to driving the premium growth).
Indeed. This is a forecast though, remember. And the SMMT has already got it wrong once. Rewind back to 2012 and they predicted that the UK would pass the 2m production milestone by the end of 2015. Last year that figure was in fact 1.5m...