SMMT: Driving UK Automotive Industry Growth

Volkswagen production line
SMMT advocates for UK automotive interests, offering research insights and promoting sustainable growth with initiatives like Vision 2035

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is a prominent trade association in the UK that represents the interests of the automotive industry. Established in 1902, SMMT plays a crucial role in promoting the growth and development of the automotive sector, which is a significant contributor to the UK economy.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

Advocacy and policy influence

SMMT's primary functions include advocating for the industry's interests in policy and regulatory matters. It provides a unified voice in discussions with the government and other stakeholders, ensuring that the automotive sector's needs and concerns are adequately represented. Such advocacy is vital for shaping policies that support industry growth and sustainability.

Industry research and insights

SMMT conducts and disseminates industry research, offering valuable insights into market trends, technological advancements, and economic impacts. This research helps stakeholders understand the dynamics of the automotive market, enabling informed decision-making and strategic planning.

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UK car manufacturing output: current trends

In May's latest figures, UK car manufacturing output declined by 11.9% to 69,652 units, according to SMMT.

While production for the UK market rose by 9.7% to 17,754 units, it could not offset a 17.4% decline in export volumes, which stood at 51,898 units. 

Despite this decline, almost three-quarters (74.5%) of all cars built in Britain were exported to global markets. The European Union accounted for more than half (52.5%) of these exports, followed by the US (18.2%) and Turkey (8%).

EV production

EV production, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid models, remained robust. In May, 26,475 electrified vehicles were produced, representing almost two-fifths (38%) of all output, up by three percentage points compared with May 2023. This trend reflects manufacturers' increasing investment in greener product lines and technology, supporting Britain's net-zero ambitions.

Vision 2035: ready to grow

SMMT's Vision 2035: Ready to Grow outlines the sector's priorities. The strategic plan calls for backing British manufacturing and attracting green investment through an industrial strategy that guarantees affordable and sustainable energy, upscaled supply chains, new skills for the UK's talented workforce, vibrant zero-emission vehicle markets, and robust and fair trading relationships.

Success in these areas could see the sector deliver a cumulative value of more than US$367bn (£290bn) of zero-emission vehicles by the end of 2035. UK factories could produce more than a million battery electric cars and vans annually, solidifying the nation's position as a leader in green automotive manufacturing.

The need for a long-term industrial strategy

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, emphasised the critical nature of this transition, stating, "Massive change is underway in the UK's car factories as manufacturers retool for new electric models. Amid strong international competition for green automotive investment, the UK must ensure it has the most attractive conditions for manufacturing businesses and a compelling offer for existing and new investors.

"Essential to this is a long-term industrial strategy, which encompasses all industry, all stakeholders, and all of the government in the pursuit of sustainable and green growth."

SMMT is at the forefront of advocating for the UK automotive industry. By promoting policy support, conducting essential research, and setting strategic priorities through initiatives like Vision 2035, SMMT aims to ensure the sector's resilience, competitiveness, and sustainable growth in a rapidly evolving global market.

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