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Industry growth hasn’t come at environment’s expense, U.K. trade group says.

Report Cites U.K. Automotive Sustainability, Productivity Gains

Automotive manufacturing is one of the U.K.’s most important economic assets, turning over £82 billion ($101.8 billion) in 2018, up 70% since SMMT’s first Sustainability Report was published in 1999.

U.K. automotive industry productivity is up 208% since 1999 and is outperforming the European Union average for energy, carbon-dioxide and water savings, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says.

The trade group’s 20th annual Sustainability Report reveals environmental, economic and social gains achieved by the sector over the past two decades and highlights 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 U.K.’s most important economic assets, turning over £82 billion ($101.8 billion) in 2018, a 70% improvement since SMMT’s first Sustainability Report was published in 1999.

At the same time, workers have experienced a significant wage boost, with average automotive pay rising 85% over the period compared with 61% across wider manufacturing. Automotive workers’ average salary of £41,800 ($51,885) is 40% higher than the U.K. average.

Meanwhile, productivity has increased considerably, with automotive output per job growing 208% from £32,000 ($39,716) to £100,900 ($124,114).

The value of exports also has grown significantly, with 81.5% of cars produced in 2018 destined for international markets compared with 63.9% in 1999.

SMMT says this progress has not come at the expense of environmental performance.

Between 1999 and 2018, energy savings added up to power for 9.5 million homes for a year. The CO2 saved would fill the 5,544-capacity Royal Albert Hall, whose volume is between 3 million-3.5 million cu.-ft. (85,000-99,000 cu.-m), 37 times.

Recycling also is high on the industry’s agenda, with manufacturers having saved about 630,000 tons of waste from landfill. The amount of water saved is equivalent to 214 gallons (813 L) for every person in the U.K.

SMMT says Brexit remains the biggest threat to U.K. automotive competitiveness. “The country’s future relationship with the EU must deliver frictionless trade, assure our competitiveness and create an environment ready for investment,” it says.

“This is vital for not only future economic growth, but to further improve the sector’s sustainable development.”

The report says efforts to deliver ever more efficient cars have resulted in average new-car CO2 emissions falling 31.2% since 1999, while nitrogen-oxides emissions have been cut 84% since the turn of the millennium and exhaust particulate matter virtually eliminated.


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