UK car industry motoring upwards

The UK's car industry is enjoying a period of growth that could continue for the ext half decade, an expert has said.

Phil Harrold, a partner at PricewaterhouseCooper's Automotive practice, said the "renaissance" could be maintained thanks to recent investments in British car production.

Over the coming years those funds will help to develop a skilled workforce to complement the sector's pre-existing R&D and supply chain strengths, he believes.

He acknowledges that "nothing in business and the economy are certain" given recent events. But he remains confident there is a "bright future", especially given the investments by GM, BMW, Nissan and most recently Toyota in UK production plants.

Mr Harrold said the world was backing the UK as a car manufacturing base.

He also pointed out that at the same time there has been "an interesting contrast with Japan", which has seen significant falls in volumes.

A strong yen could prompt Japanese car makers to relocate more of their production capacities elsewhere.

Mr Harrold was speaking after recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed there was a 12.1% (151,250) increase in new UK car registrations in October.

This year so far has seen 5% growth in the new car market with more than 1.7 million cars sold - a figure that is 84,000 up on a year ago - perhaps showing that some confidence has returned with consumers able to access car finance to secure better vehicles.

The industry has received a further boost with the news from Land Rover that it will increase production at its UK plants as it aims to roll 600,000 vehicles off its production lines by the end of the decade.

Both the Solihull and Halewood plants are set to be expanded as part of that effort to more than double production.

Land Rover also has a keen eye on the emerging markets of India and China with the aim of achieving a market share of around 3% in the global sports utility sector.

In the first eight months of this year Land Rover sold almost 50,000 vehicles in China, where it is well on the way to developing a network of 144 dealerships.

The company has earmarked a £10 billion investment over the next five years as part of a seven-year plan covering 16 different models.

That selection of models includes Range Rovers, Discoverys, Freelanders and Defenders.

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