UK auto industry has rebounded strongly after recession

UK auto industry has rebounded strongly after recession

UK automotive body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), says domestic production needs Europe to emerge stronger from current economic uncertainty to boost home performance.

Britain's automotive sector has rebounded remarkably from the moribund depths of its recession, turning in month after month of consecutive growth, but is still warily eyeing its neighbours' woes across the English Channel as Eurozone uncertainty continues to stalk the Continent.

"While the European economy is deteriorating on the edge of recession or barely growing at all, the European car market is beginning to come back - 13months of growth," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes at yesterday's (4 November) Open Forum day in Birmingham, bringing together hundreds of suppliers with OEMs.

"It is still fairly anemic growth - we are still 4m yearly vehicle sales off per-recession. We need Europe to come back. To help demand for UK products and plants. Germany has been relatively strong, France wavers and has negative growth for three out of the last four months."

The SMMT chief is expecting UK passenger car production to reach around 1.6m vehicles this year and is "still confident" Britain will reach record numbers by 2017 - provided Europe's economies stabilise and grow.

Part of that European challenge - including the UK - will be to cope with ever-stricter air quality regulation specifically aiming at CO2 and NOX emissions that will see the Continent adopt some of the toughest regimes in the world.

"The CO2 challenge which manufacturers must face - this is particularly acute in Europe," said Hawes. "CO2 requirements in China, the US and India are converging on low CO2 vehicles.

"Added to that is air quality and in particular, discussions around diesel engines. NOX emissions is something we need to address, but the effects of diesel mainly come from particulate matter.

"Emissions of NOX and particulate matter are coming down. It is delivering what the regulations expect."

Hawes added the industry needed to "wave the flag abroad" in terms of promoting the UK's technological expertise and attract inward investment.