Monday, 03 Dec 2012
Automotive assembly line
Worth over £10 billion annually, the UK’s automotive sector is diverse, vibrant and world class. Home to some of the most productive vehicle plants in the world, it produces more than 1 million cars and commercial vehicles and over 2 million engines a year.
On this page you can read more about the UKs world class automotive manufacturing plants, specialist sports car production and racing expertise. You will also find information about powertrain production, How British Design and creativity is contributing to vehicle design as well as our expertise in low carbon and alternative fuel solutions.
The UK Market
Eleven of the world’s volume vehicle manufacturers have a UK presence, and with automotive one of the leading manufactured exports from the UK, accounting for 11% of UK manufactured exports, the UK is a proven, experienced and successful export platform. The UK is also Europe’s third biggest automotive market, buying more than 2 million new cars in 2010, over 50% bought by fleets or businesses.
The UK automotive industry employs
over 135,000 people directly in manufacturing
around 140,000 people in in-direct manufacturing
as many as 500.000 in the wider motor trade
vehicles produced in UK shipped to over 100 countries worldwide.
The Nissan and Toyota plants in Sunderland and Derbyshire respectively are two of the most productive plants in Europe, and are recognised by the manufacturers as amongst their most efficient plants worldwide.
The UK is home to the largest number of specialist sports car manufactures in the world including Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus, McLaren, MG, Rolls-Royce and Morgan – names which speak of the UK’s rich heritage in automotive design and development.
Eight Formula One teams are based in the UK, supported by more than 300 specialist motorsport companies, employing nearly 50,000 people.
The UK’s established automotive supply chain of more than 2,000 component manufacturers ensures that vehicle producers are able to source top quality parts from global names and innovative newcomers. 19 of the top 20 auto parts makers have a manufacturing presence in the UK, including Bosch, Calsonic and GKN. Few links in the automotive supply chain are as important as the engines, and the UK has long been a leader in engine production. In 2010, almost 2.4 million units were produced here. Ford maintains two engine production plants in the UK: its petrol engine plant at Bridgend in South Wales is on schedule to produce a million units annually. The UK is also home to Ricardo, a global leader in high performance engineering and powertrain systems. It has three technical centres across the UK and has recently opened an assembly plant in Shoreham in Sussex to produce the engines for McLaren’s groundbreaking MP4-12C sports cars.
Automotive design, research and development
Research and development is a major part of the UK automotive sector, with a host of world-leading centres of excellence. Over £1.5 billion is invested in the UK on automotive R&D: Jaguar Land Rover, Ford and Nissan all have R&D centres in the UK. Tata Motors established its European Technical Centre, a key part of its global product development, at the University of Warwick in 2005, while a number of other universities have specialist automotive research centres. The UK the long established world leader in motorsport R&D and race car production with 8 of the 12 formula one teams located here along the majority of teams from other major race series. This heritage has led to a culture of high performance high output engineering which feeds into the automotive sector.
Best of British design
Nissan decided to base its new European design headquarters in Paddington, Central London because of its multi-cultural backdrop and access to important and influential sources in contemporary art, architecture, fashion and design movements. The futuristic studio houses 60 international designers, modellers and support staff, who work on projects for European and global markets.
“London is at the centre of everything, and that’s where we want Nissan to be”
David Godber, Former General Manager, Nissan Design Europe
Drawing on inspiration from the aerospace sector, companies such as Jaguar and lotus use lightweight aluminium body technology that means their cars weigh significantly less than competitors. Not only does this improve power performance, it also means the car needs less fuel to run. Companies like Cheshire-based Mitras and Amber Composites of Nottingham are enabling vehicle manufacturers to capitalise on the lightness and durability of carbon composites for a range of parts, from bodywork to brake ducts, while TWI has provided expert insight on how to join composites to aluminium and other materials. The UK motorsport sector has been using composite materials for chassis and bodywork components for over 30 years giving the UK significant experience in the use of advanced materials for vehicle systems.
Low carbon motoring
The UK automotive industry is leading in the development of low carbon vehicle technologies – investing heavily in new fuels and electric and hybrid systems as well as lightweight structures and improvements to internal combustion engines. In 2009, the UK launched the world’s largest electric car trial, providing a forum for testing not only the vehicles but also the necessary infrastructure. Current government investment is focused on research into hybrid electric vehicle subsystems, the use of recycled and recyclable materials in automotive manufacturing and further developments to optimise the performance of power electronics. The UK has a thriving lox carbon technology sector with is consistently developing and improving technology for road and other applications.
There are a number of organisation in the UK researching alternative fuels such as Lotus Engineering which is spearheading research into such areas as hybrids, electric vehicles and renewable fuels for both its cars and its engineering clients. Working collaboratively with Queen’s University Belfast and Jaguar Cars Ltd, Lotus Engineering researched the combustion process for running an engine on mixtures of alcohol-based fuels and gasoline. The results were the new Omnivore engine, a flex-fuel engine designed to maximise fuel efficiency when running on renewable fuels or gasoline.
Re-use and re-cycle - End-of-Life-Vehicles (ELV)
The ELV directive aims to reduce the amount of waste from vehicles (cars and light goods vehicles) when they are finally scrapped. There are approximately 1,800 Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) in the UK and environmental performance statistics are published biennially. In the last five years, vehicle manufacturers’ ATFs have exceeded European targets.
Re-use and re-cycle – for performance
Williams Hybrid Power Ltd is a company with its roots in the Williams Formula 1 team. It developed an electromechanical flywheel system for energy recovery and storage. The technology was first deployed in the Formula 1 cars, but has enormous potential in hybrid passenger vehicles. It has now been used by Porsche in its hybrid 911. Flybrid Systems is another example of motorsport engineering which has transferred to road cars and their high-speed flywheel hybrid systems are scheduled to be on mass produced road cars within the next couple of years.
Our investment location services are independent, highly professional and free of charge. For specific help setting up in the UK or for help mapping your business ambitions to the UK please contact us by email .