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Britain’s ‘specialist’ car making sector is world’s biggest

And the low-volume, performance and luxury car segment is still growing. Hooray!

Published: 17 Oct 2017

Congratulations, Britain. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has confirmed today that the UK is host to the largest and most diverse “specialist car manufacturing sector” in the world.

That’s right. If it’s fast, luxurious, high in value and limited in numbers, we build it. And we build it better than anyone else in the world. There are more than 60 of these ‘specialist’ car manufacturers in the UK. Think Aston Martin. Bentley. Rolls-Royce. McLaren. Lotus. Morgan. Radical. The fresh-for-2017 TVR. Even little ol’ Caterham.

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SMMT – that’s the official body for all things motoring in the UK – said that last year, these specialist car makers turned over £3.6 billion, which was up a whopping 52 per cent from 2012’s figure. They’re also employing more people and producing more cars than ever before, too.

Not only that, but this sector’s unique experience – “in part through their roots in motorsport”, the SMMT says – help make other things in Britain and the world better too. “They have a strong track-record in delivering lightweight solutions,” the SMMT adds. Also carbonfibre, and other composite materials and efficient powertrains, that can help broader industry. And you thought all that optional carbon on a McLaren was there just for show…

There’s more, naturally. A massive 65 per cent of the cars Britain produces is then fed to the rest of the world, including Europe, the US, China, Japan and the Gulf States. And by 2020, the SMMT reckons that the current output of 32,000 specialist cars built a year will shoot up quite significantly to 52,000 – a 60 per cent growth rate.

“Our specialist car manufacturing sector is one of the UK’s global success stories,” explains Mike Hawes, SMMT boss, “making world-leading products and pioneering next generation technologies that benefit everyone."

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“For this to continue we need certainty on Britain’s future trading relationships, including customs plans, market access, regulations governing the design, production and approval of vehicles and rules around movement of skilled workers,” he adds, pointing to Brexit concerns.

Mike Flewitt, CEO for McLaren, said: “Niche manufactures such as McLaren Automotive are vitally important as we help to incubate technology that influences standard road cars. Five years ago we pioneered the world’s first hybrid hypercar, the McLaren P1, and now, under our Track22 business plan, half of our range will be hybrid by 2022."

So, raise a glass to Blighty: where the fast and the luxurious are borne.

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