A new UK report has revealed environmental, economic, and social gains achieved by the country’s automotive sector over the past two decades.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) 20th annual Sustainability Report highlights the substantial improvements in areas such as energy and water use, waste to landfill and CO2 emissions.
Over the past 20 years, automotive manufacturing has grown to become one of the UK’s most important economic assets, turning over £82 billion (€90.8 billion) in 2018, an uplift of 70% since the first Sustainability Report was published in 1999. At the same time, workers have experienced a significant wage boost as average automotive wages have risen by 85% over the period, compared with 61% across wider manufacturing.
Automotive manufacturing workers are now some of the UK’s better earners, with an average salary of £41,800 (€46,280), 40% higher than the national average. Meanwhile, productivity has increased considerably, with automotive output per job growing by 208% from £32,000 to £100,900 (€35,430 to €111,715). The value of exports has also grown significantly, with 81.5% of cars produced in 2018 destined for international markets compared with 63.9% in 1999.
However, this progress has not been at the expense of environmental performance. The UK automotive sector is now one of the most efficient in Europe, outperforming the EU average for energy, CO2 and water. Thanks to strict efficiency targets and continuous improvement and refinement of manufacturing processes, the sector has significantly reduced its environmental impact.
Between 1999 and 2018, energy savings add up to power for 9.5 million homes for a year, while the CO2 saved would fill the Royal Albert Hall 37 times. Recycling is also high on the industry’s agenda, with manufacturers having saved 693,969 tonnes of waste from landfill. Meanwhile, the amount of water saved is equivalent to 813 litres of water for every in the UK.
Alongside advances in production processes, Industry has continued to invest heavily in developing the latest low-emission technology to address air quality and environmental concerns. Efforts to deliver ever more efficient cars have resulted in average new car CO2 falling 31.2% since 1999, while Nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions have been cut by 84% since the turn of the millennium and exhaust particulate matter virtually eliminated.
‘Sustainability lies at the heart of the UK automotive sector and manufacturers are committed to balancing profitability and output with social and environmental responsibilities,’ said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. ‘Industry has invested heavily in ever safer, more efficient technology, but in processes and measures that have significantly reduced its environmental impact. We are on the cusp of a transport revolution, and this sector has the potential to be one of the world’s leading forces driving the change. For the UK to reap the full benefits, any future relationship with the EU must assure our competitiveness, delivering frictionless trade and a supportive business environment to encourage investment.’