How the Car Industry Looks Now

After a lot of changes, the car industry is beginning to get back on its feet.

Employment in the car industry

The automotive industry employs just under one million people in the UK. Of those, almost 200,000 of them are directly employed in the manufacturing of vehicles. 

The industry is also great for providing young people with opportunities straight out of school and college, with almost 60,000 engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships being offered since 2018.

It has been forecasted that 20,000 new jobs will be created by 2030, but the UK Government has said that a further 40,000 could be created in the nuclear energy sector due to the proposed ban on new diesel and petrol vehicles from the same year.

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On top of this, the motorsport industry is thriving more than ever in the UK with the success of Great Britain’s Lewis Hamilton. More than 40,000 people are employed in motorsport in the UK, 25,000 of whom are engineers. 

However, Covid-19 led to many people across the country being placed on furlough, and the automotive industry was no different. In the car manufacturing heartlands such as the northeast and the midlands, many plants were forced to shut their doors and sadly, many people were made redundant.

How many cars were bought after Covid-19?

The number of car registrations in 2020 was down by 31% from 2019, with the pandemic being the number one cause of this. Just over 1.5 million new cars were registered in 2020, compared to 2.2 million in 2019.

November 2020 saw the lowest number of cars registered in that particular month since November 2008. On average 155,000 cars are registered in the month of November, but we only saw 114,000 in November 2020.

The best-selling cars of 2020 were:

  1. Ford Fiesta
  2. Vauxhall Corsa
  3. Volkswagen Golf
  4. Ford Focus
  5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  6. Nissan Qashqai
  7. MINI
  8. Volkswagen Polo
  9. Ford Puma
  10. BMW 1 Series 

We as a nation love our cars but 2020 was very different and therefore unsurprising that we saw such a drop off in new registrations compared to previous years.

Petrol cars remain to be the firm favourite of new car punters, with 846,000 purchased in 2020. Next up is diesel, selling 246,000 and this is followed by MHEV petrol, HEV, BEV, PHEV, and MHEV diesel vehicles respectively, all accumulating around 400,000 of the new registrations. 

The digitalisation of automotive manufacturing

The digitalisation revolution is already taking shape. Manufacturers and suppliers are benefitting from increased productivity, greater flexibility, and shorter times to market.

There are many benefits to this new way of life, already being able to reduce parts inventory by up to 20% and increase productivity by up to 5%.

The benefits of things becoming more hi-tech not only impacts the industry but the wider economy, at around £1.7 billion. It is hoped that by 2035, that number will have grown exponentially to £74 billion, further signifying that the automotive industry is one of the country’s most valuable.

UK automotive and the European Union

Almost 70% of cars registered in the UK are imported from the EU. The same can be said for car vehicle components coming from the EU, they make up 80% of what we use here.

Immigration has been and always will be an integral part of life in the UK, with at least 10% of people employed in the UK automotive manufacturing sector coming from elsewhere in the EU.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) adds a 10% tariff to all exports and imports to the UK which equates to around £5 billion. The sector generates trade worth more than £100 billion, with over £40 billion being exported and just under £60 billion being imported. 

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The environment and effects of vehicle emissions

As previously mentioned, the UK government aims to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, with the aim of tackling climate change and creating new jobs in new industries such as nuclear energy. 

It had previously been stated as 2035 when this ban would come into play but has been brought forward five years as the global crisis worsens. 

The ban only impacts new cars bought; second-hand petrol and diesel cars are permitted but we should expect to see a massive change on the roads as people turn their attention to electric and hybrid vehicles.

BEVs (Battery electric vehicles) only run on batteries and do not have internal combustion engines, making them much cleaner for the environment.

The shift from ICE to electric will provide lots of new jobs, which will be critical as and when we start to move on from the coronavirus pandemic. It’s estimated that bringing this rule into 2030 from 2035 could create an extra 40,000 jobs. 

Not only that, but the emissions reductions from this change would be the equivalent of taking more than four million cars off of the road.


Is the automotive industry in the UK growing?

After a significant drop off in car manufacturing and sales caused by Covid-19, the UK automotive industry is getting back to where it was pre-pandemic.

Why is the automotive industry so important in the UK?

The automotive industry accounts for around 13% of the UK's exported goods, worth £44 billion. It also invests £3 billion per year into automotive research and development.