Home market fuels British car boom

Home market fuels British car boom

British drivers are contributing greatly to the demand for new cars built in this country, new figures suggest.

The amount of motors made for the British market surged by nearly a quarter (24.5%) in the 12 months between March 2014 and March 2015.

The latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) numbers show the total number of UK-built cars rose by 1.9% to 144,893 in March compared to the same month last year.

This made it the most productive March for British car builders in nine years. The figures indicate that UK drivers buying a car are regularly choosing British before they look anywhere else.

But while the home market fuelled the increase, exports fell last month by 5% over the same timespan. The overall quarterly figures saw a drop of 0.6% to 402,193 in the first three months of 2015 compared to the same time in 2014.

The British car-making sector also appears to be building vehicles more efficiently, according to the SMMT figures.

Its productivity-per-worker ratio reached a record high. This jumped from 9.3 cars made per worker per year between 2005 and 2009, to 11.5 cars made per worker per year between 2010 and 2014.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the society, said that Britain's automative sector is becoming "increasingly competitive" worldwide, making it not merely a brand. He said that the new statistics confirm this and expects such confidence to be underpinned by last month's announcement of £1 billion of new investments by three UK-based car-builders.

Britain's adaptable workers have never built cars so efficiently, Mr Hawes said. He added there is strong global demand for home-manufactured vehicles, tapping into Britain's diverse array of car types.

The SMMT helps to promote and back the UK car sector's interests and calls itself the motor industry's "voice".

It claims that nearly 150,000 workers are directly employed in the car-making business with a further 700,000 staff in vehicle-related jobs. The SMMT said the sector has a yearly turnover of over £60 billion and is behind about a tenth of all Britain's total exports.

Copyright Press Association 2015