The United Kingdom may surpass France as the second-biggest auto producer within the next five years if it could maintain the current growth of its vehicle sales and exports, according to industry executives. Among the carmakers that export their vehicles from their UK sites are Nissan, BMW’s Mini and Jaguar Land Rover. Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer remarked that the UK overtaking France could happen once its plants are operating at full capacity, which is “not far off being."
Nissan’s Sunderland site is already reaching its full production capacity while output at Mini’s Oxford plant is steadily increasing – thanks to surging demand for UK-build vehicles in emerging markets. Tim Abbott, managing director of BMW's UK operations, remarked during the SMMT automotive conference in London that “all the indications appear to be saying 'yes' Britain will be second in a few years."
In 2012, UK sites built around 1.5 million cars, while French factories produced around 1.9 million units, according to European car industry association ACEA. However, it could be noted that vehicles sales has been diving in France, mainly due to slumping deliveries at PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault. Abbott remarked that production at eight main sites in the UK could reach 2 million vehicles by 2018, surpassing the record of 1.92 million in 1972.
Germany remains the largest auto-producer in Europe, building around 5.5 million units in 2012. According to SMMT, around 82 percent of UK-built cars were exported overseas, with emerging markets accounting for a third of the total. Palmer remarked that the UK has to persuade more of the largest carmakers and suppliers in the world to operate in the country to record more gains. [source: Reuters]