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The United Kingdom's automotive industry boasts an exceptional history that’s been defined by a startling number of premium and sports car brands. Names like Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar and Rolls-Royce, to name a few, have become synonymous with British craftsmanship and excellence. While these premium brands often make the headlines, the UK's automotive sector is more than a thriving ecosystem, contributing significantly to the nation's economy.
In 2018, the UK automotive manufacturing sector accelerated to a turnover of £82 billion. Beyond its financial clout, the industry generated a remarkable £18.6 billion for the UK economy, all while producing approximately 1.5 million passenger vehicles and 85,000 commercial vehicles. Over 168,000 people were directly employed in automotive manufacturing with an additional 823,000 people working in related sectors like supply, retail and servicing.
The UK's significance extends to engine manufacturing with 2.71 million engines rolling off the production lines in 2018. The sector isn't confined to manufacturing alone; the country has carved a distinct niche in auto racing. The UK motorsport industry employs around 38,500 professionals, boasts around 4500 companies, and commands an annual turnover of approximately £6 billion. The UK's automotive legacy has deep roots, stretching back to the tail end of the 19th century. By the 1950s, the nation had firmly secured its position as the world's second-largest car manufacturer, right after the United States, and was the largest exporter.
In the modern era, many British car marques have found new homes under foreign ownership. Iconic brands such as Mini and Rolls-Royce now belong to BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover are part of Tata, and MG is overseen by SAIC. Bentley joined the Volkswagen Group's portfolio, ensuring the continued legacy of these storied brands. Additionally, rights to several dormant British brands, including Austin, Riley, Rover and Triumph, are now held by foreign companies.