Jaguar Land Rover beat long-time leader Nissan to become the UK’s biggest car manufacturer in 2015, a position it has never previously held in the combined 70-year history of its constituent companies. Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also revealed that more new cars were built in Britain last year than in any of the past 10 years, while exports hit an all time high.
The SMMT figures show that JLR’s production rose by 50,400 units (or 9%) to 489,932, beating Nissan, whose production dropped by 4.7% to 476,589 units.
However, Nissan’s Sunderland plant, which is 30 years old this yea, still remains the largest car factory in the UK manufacturing history. Its small decline in output has been blamed on disruption caused while the additional Infiniti Q30 line was installed.
JLR has also announced plans to invest more than £3bn in UK facilities during the 2015-16 fiscal year and is expecting to boost output again with the launch of the Jaguar F-Pace SUV this year.
The overall success marks another step towards the all time production record of 1.92 million cars, set in 1972- which the SMMT had previously said it expects car makers to eclipse in the next four years. Total sales of UK-built cars rose by 3.9% to 1,587,677 units.
Although SMMT chief Mike Hawes is still predicting output will eclipse 1.92m cars by 2020, he cautioned that the growth hinged on the continued emergence of Europe from recession and stability and growth in other world markets. He said “There are a lot of factors at play, from continued demand in the UK, through to our membership of the EU being resolved and on to the other geo-social factors that could impact on demand in large markets.”
In total, 77% of UK production (1,227,881 units) was exported, despite warning sales in China (down 37.5%) and Russia (down 69.4%).