UK car manufacturing falls 9% as investment plummets

Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan production falls

Coventry-based Jaguar Land Rover, which announced 4500 job losses and factory shutdowns earlier this month, remains the biggest car maker in the UK. Its output fell by 15.6% in 2018 to 449,304 units across its three factories in Castle Bromwich, Halewood and Solihull respectively.

The hardest hit was Vauxhall, with its production falling by 15.9% to 77,481. The PSA-owned firm only produces one car in the UK at its Ellesmere Port plant, the Astra.

Meanwhile, Nissan output fell 10.7%, Toyota’s dropped 10.4% and Honda’s decreased by a modest 2.1%.

Mini bucked the trend, with a 7% rise. It produced 234,183 cars in its Oxford facility in 2018.

The top British best-sellers worldwide were:

1. Nissan Qashqai

2. Mini

3. Honda Civic

4. Toyota Auris

5. Vauxhall Astra

6. Range Rover Sport

7. Nissan Juke

8. Range Rover

9. Range Rover Velar

10. Jaguar F-Pace

The number of diesel cars made in the UK fell by 22% to 561,384 units, while petrol production dropped 3.5%. Alternatively-fuelled vehicle production rose by 41.5% to 142,732 units. The electric Nissan Leaf is built in Sunderland and the plug-in hybrid Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are also made in the UK.

UK exports around the world in 2018

Hawes described output to Europe, which has fallen 7.3%, as “pretty flat” and noted it was “still overwhelming the biggest market.

UK car exports to China suffered the biggest hit in 2018, falling 24.5%.

Growing markets included the USA (+5.3%), making it the UK’s second biggest customer after the EU, Japan (+26%) and South Korea (+23.5%).

According to the SMMT, two-thirds of the UK’s car exports are to Europe or those with preferential EU trade agreements.

A spokesman said: “Time has almost run out to guarantee continuity of any of these arrangements before Brexit, and ‘no deal’ could therefore put more than two-thirds of UK Automotive’s global trade under threat.”

The Brexit effect

Hawes said he hoped that the industry “has not reached the point of no return” in relation to the damage already done since the Brexit referendum.

He said the supply chain is particularly vulnerable, as it quickly feels the effect of falls in manufacturer volume.

Talking about the mood within the industry, he said: “We’re not at the Financial Crisis levels [of 2008]. But the lack of clarity means the mood is incredibly nervous and everybody is increasingly exasperated.

If there is a Brexit transition, Hawes predicts production will fall by a further 20,000 units in 2019. He said it was “impossible to put a number on production under a ‘no deal’ scenario.


Exclusive: Ginetta readies secret Aston Martin rival

Ginetta, the Leeds-based sports and race car constructor, will shock the supercar world this spring with the launch of a highly sophisticated, 200mph-plus supercar designed to catapult it into the high-performance road car arena currently occupied by Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren

The company, owned by Le Mans GT2 class winner Lawrence Tomlinson and well known for launching and backing a successful ‘own brand’ UK sports car racing series, is likely to have its new supercar ready to make a ‘wild card’ entry at the Geneva motor show in March. 

Tomlinson plans use the new Ginetta project to support his promising LMP1 Le Mans racing project, begun last year, and to showcase Ginetta’s substantial in-house technical capabilities. In recent years, the company has installed autoclaves and CNC machining capability and has greatly expanded its design facilities. It now does more original engineering than any other UK car company of its size. 

The new supercar is likely to be ready for its first customers late this year. It will have an ultra-light carbonfibre tub chassis, plus carbon outer panels and a radical aerodynamic package designed entirely inside the company’s Garforth premises. Ginetta is still deciding the pricing, but the model is likely to be on a similar level to McLaren’s and Aston’s best-performing series models. 

The new Ginetta’s showpiece is a bespoke, super-compact 6.0-litre normally aspirated V8 engine with its block machined entirely from aluminium billet. Drive is through a sequential paddle-shift gearbox designed in-house by Ginetta in partnership with a UK gearbox company. 


Autocar magazine 30 January – on sale now

We also drive the Lamborghini Huaracan Evo on track to see if a raft of new chassis changes can make Lambo’s supercar even more of a spectacle to drive, test Kia’s warm shooting brake-styled Ceed GT to see if it’s as even half as dynamic as its i30 N hot hatch cousin, and drive Mercedes’ most affordable AMG yet, the A35, on UK roads for the first time.

Finally, the subject of this week’s road test is the Skoda Karoq Scout. The practical and comfortable compact SUV replaces the popular Yeti, so has to impress in all areas to earn praise from our road test team.


It’s a Mini special this week, as we mark 60 years of the iconic British brand with a look back on the cars that made it so successful (and some mad concepts that didn’t quite hit the mark), hunt for the ten best used Minis you can buy today, and follow Mini’s motorsport journey all the way to this year’s punishing Dakar rally.

What does it take to earn the title of British takeaway delivery driver of the year? We found out from 82-year-old Brian Loughans, who braved blizzards and 100 mile round trips to earn the accolade.

The first electric Jaguar isn’t quite the company’s most popular model, but it’s made in the same factory as the one that is: the I-Pace EV and E-Pace SUV both originate from Graz in Austria. To find out how two very different cars can be built on the same production line, we took an E-Pace onto the continent for a road trip and tour of Magna Steyr’s facilities.


How Aston Martin Valkyrie buyers personalize their $2.6M hypercars

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Aston Martin won’t simply take $2.6 million from buyers of its upcoming Valkyrie supercar and call it a day. Not in the slightest.
The personalization process is, to put it bluntly, incredible. Top Gear magazine was able to step into the shoes of a Valkyrie customer and specify its own model as if they had paid for the car and were ready to fill a build slot with a one-off look. Top Gear published its video to YouTube on Thursday, and the process is pretty mesmerizing to watch.
A design coach of sorts sits with the would-be customer and offers her recommendations based on colors of schemes the buyer fancies. In this case, it’s emerald green with gold accents. To dial up the customization, she also shares that Aston Martin has experimented with a fading effect for paint colors. With that knowledge, the pair choose a fade from the emerald green to silver. Eventually, yellow-gold accents are placed on some of the lines to accentuate the aerodynamic elements of the car. The lines chosen reveal a bomb shape for the cockpit and rear wing when viewed from above.
The customer flips through the four different wheel choices with various finishes, chooses black or chrome exhaust pipes, and then heads to the interior. Inside, accent colors are totally customizable, as is the carbon-fiber finish.
That’s not all. If a customer decides they’d like the Track Package, Aston Martin designs and assembles a whole new set of body panels that will need to be fitted to the car for track days. The panels are interchangeable with the standard panels and can be finished in an entirely different color scheme with different wheels to boot. The Valkyrie won’t be street legal with the Track Package.
No matter what elements the customer chooses, the engine is a Cosworth-developed 6.5-liter V-12 engine paired with an electric motor for well over 1,000 horsepower.
Truly, the options are endless, and Aston Martin isn’t kidding when it says no two of the 150 cars to be produced will be alike.
Take a look at the process above and imagine how you’d outfit your $2.6 million hypercar.

McLaren Senna Shatters Grand Tour Lap Record, Wows Clarkson

It’s almost three seconds quicker than the Aston Martin Vulcan.

Season three of The Grand Tour kicked off last week on Amazon Prime, and so far, there are three episodes. Though the trio may have stopped touring, technically, they haven’t gotten rid of the many crazy rides we’re used to, thankfully. In the first half of the episode, entitled Motown Funk, Clarkson, Hammond, and May get behind the wheel of three muscle cars in Detroit. But back home in Britain, Clarkson finally gets a taste of the twin-turbocharged, 789-horsepower (588-kilowatt) McLaren Senna.

As you might expect, Clarkson’s blown away by the performance of the six-figure supercar. “That’s really alarming – I’m gonna be sick now,” he jokingly notes at the end of his stint in the Senna. Showing off the supercar’s launch control feature, he blasts off to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) in just 2.7 seconds, on to 186 mph (299 kmh) in 18 seconds – but there isn’t enough runway for him to test out the Senna’s 217-mph (349 kmh) top speed, unfortunately.

But they didn’t just test out the Senna’s speed in a straight line. According to a few sites, the McLaren Senna shattered the previous lap record around the Eboladrome, recording a fast lap of 1:12.90 with professional driver Abbie Eaton behind the wheel. That’s nearly three seconds quicker than the Aston Martin Vulcan (1:15.5), a whole four seconds faster than the Lamborghini Huracan Performante (1:16.80), and five seconds faster than the Ford GT (1:17.60).

The rest of episode one saw Clarkson, Hammond, and May take on Detroit in a trio of muscle cars. Hammond piloted the Dodge Challenger Demon, good for 840 hp (626 kW), Clarkson was behind the wheel of the RTR-tuned Mustang, producing 700 horsepower (522 kilowatts), and May had Hennessey’s 1,000-hp Excorist Camaro.

Episode four of The Grand Tour rolls out on February 8th, 2019, and Amazon has already confirmed season four.

Gallery: McLaren Senna: First Drive


Lotus And Williams Team Up, Rumored To Be Working On A Hypercar

The Omega project could rival the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Sports car maker Lotus and Williams Advanced Engineering have officially announced a new strategic partnership which will allow the two companies to share “research and development into advanced propulsion technologies.” The exact parameters of the agreement between the two sides are not known at the moment but some sources report they will be working cooperatively on a new hypercar set to rival the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

While Phil Popham, CEO of Lotus, says the partnership with Williams “is part of a strategy to expand our knowledge and capability in the rapidly changing automotive landscape,” Autocar claims the Norfolk-based brand is actually developing a hybrid hypercar codenamed Omega. Lotus is believed to be leading the development to ensure the car carries the brand’s DNA and meets its criteria for lightness.

“Applying advanced propulsion powertrains can provide numerous exciting solutions across multiple vehicle sectors,” continues Popham. “Our combined and complementary experiences make this a very compelling match of engineering talent, technical ability, and pioneering British spirit.”

According to the British publication, Williams will contribute its technical expertise in electric systems to the project and will probably supply the batteries. It is believed the Omega hypercar will use “at least two electric motors” in an all-wheel-drive powertrain configuration. Advanced battery technology should provide a range of more than 250 miles (402 kilometers) between two charges with a fast charging option available.

Williams Electric Platform Concept

                                                                                    Williams Advanced Engineering Electric Concept

“Williams Advanced Engineering takes great pride in delivering innovation for our customers at a rapid pace of development, born from our Formula One heritage. We will be further developing next-generation powertrains in this partnership with Lotus,” comments Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams.

Autocar reports the project is still at least two years away and it remains to be seen whether the two companies will work on additional powertrains.

Source: Lotus, Autocar

Hide press releaseShow press release
  • Renowned British engineering companies to collaborate on advanced propulsion technologies
  • Combined capabilities to lead high performance automotive evolution across multiple vehicle sectors

Lotus and Williams Advanced Engineering announce a strategic technical partnership in which the companies will share research and development into advanced propulsion technologies.

Lotus Engineering has extensive and proven expertise in the integration and application of new technologies – for Lotus Cars and many global engineering clients, and is an acknowledged leader in lightweight structures and advanced materials.

Williams Advanced Engineering has acclaimed experience across the automotive sector and beyond, which will continue alongside this partnership. This expertise includes advanced propulsion systems and award-winning work applying knowledge derived from the pinnacle of battery technology during the inaugural four seasons of Formula E into electric vehicles.

Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars said, “Our new technology partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering is part of a strategy to expand our knowledge and capability in the rapidly changing automotive landscape. Applying advanced propulsion powertrains can provide numerous exciting solutions across multiple vehicle sectors. Our combined and complementary experiences make this a very compelling match of engineering talent, technical ability and pioneering British spirit.”

Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering said, “Williams Advanced Engineering takes great pride in delivering innovation for our customers at a rapid pace of development, born from our Formula One heritage. We will be further developing next generation powertrains in this partnership with Lotus.”


The slowest-selling UK cars of 2018

11. Volkswagen Jetta – 2018 sales: 31 

You may not even have realised that this Golf with a boot was on sale. It barely was, and these are among the last sold. 

10. McLaren Senna – 2018 sales: 25 

As with the LaFerrari, the Senna is a sold-out limited-edition hypercar, 25 British orders fulfilled during 2018. 

9. Alfa Romeo 4C Coupé/Spider – 2018 sales: 24 

The 4C has the right ingredients – feisty engine, carbonfibre tub, exciting design – but sells at one-third the rate of the similar, and similarly under-performing, Lotus Elise. 

8. Chevrolet Camaro – 2018 sales: 23 

Chevrolet’s muscled coupé sells at one hundredth the rate of the Ford Mustang, but it’s left-hand drive and only sold through two official dealers. 

7. Honda NSX – 2018 sales: 19 

Honda’s amazingly complex, reborn supercar is better at generating energy than buyers, despite its many merits. Maybe the upcoming titivations will help. 

6= Chevrolet Corvette – 2018 sales: 18 

The C7-generation ’Vette is the best yet, but that hasn’t fired sales – left-hand drive not helping. Maybe the mid-engined C8, due soon, will fare better. 

6= Subaru Levorg – 2018 sales: 18 

The intriguingly named Levorg didn’t intrigue enough to attract buyers, most of the 18 sold probably being demonstrators. It deserves better. 


Affordable affluence: high-end cars on a Bangernomics budget

Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 (2001, 145k miles, £1200)

Many would say this isn’t strictly a sports car. It is a Mercedes, though, and it has a trick roof, which, if it is working, means you get the best of all worlds, whatever the weather. Now very affordable, although some of those really are very scruffy.

BMW Z4 3.0L (2003, 113k miles, £2750)

Here’s a proper sports car. Find the largest six-cylinder engine you can and enjoy. The styling has certainly matured well. There are lots around and values are falling away for the earliest models. That roof is pretty nifty and does its stuff in 10 seconds.


Mercedes-Benz E55

  • Cost new: £55,140
  • Cost now: 1999, 143,000 miles, £3995

Fancy a Mercedes? How about one of those three-letter ones? Supersaloons were nothing new at the time, but the E55 got it right with its sledgehammer of a powerplant and comfortable fixtures, fittings and overall ride. Hand-built supercharged 5.4 V8 engine surrounded by the roomy E-Class exterior seemed like the perfect combination. Shame that it was on that rust-prone body, which can finish off the whole car if not sorted out.

Rusty wings are the most common, also sills and door bottoms. The interior is tough old-school Mercedes, though. The V8 needs looking after. Overheating will cause problems if maintenance has been neglected and waterways get blocked. The proper tyres are very expensive and sorting out the brakes usually involves a computer. 


Aston Martin proves the battery-electric Rapide E prototype can drive


On April 2, 2015, we wrote a report detailing an electric version of Aston Martin’s Rapide sedan that could launch in two-to-three years. Today, January 25, 2019, we are here to post a video of the electric Rapide E prototype driving on its own for the first time. Chalk that long wait up to Aston’s high bar of making it feel like a V12, the fact that it’s Aston’s first EV, and the company’s thorough testing regimen.

President and CEO of Aston Martin Andy Palmer took to Twitter to share with his followers “a moment of Aston Martin history.” The video showed the first validation prototype of the Rapide E, the electric variant of the four-door performance car, moving under its own power. This was no Tesla Roadster warehouse video showing its incredible performance. It was simply the first footage of the Rapide E in slow action in a parking lot.

This past September, Aston Martin officially announced it would build a limited run of 155 examples of the Rapide E. Co-developed with Williams Advanced Engineering, the Rapide E uses two electric motors to make 610 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque. It has a top speed of 155 mph and can do 0-60 mph in less than four seconds.

Its WLTP range target is said to be over 200 miles, and an hour of charging is good for 185 miles, using a 400V, 50-kW charger. Aston says the car’s 800V battery system can also be charged with a 100-kW+ charger at a rate of over 5 miles per minute.

In addition to the video, Palmer commented that a second mark of Aston history occurred, but that it will remain a “tightly held secret for now.” Expect the first Rapide Es to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Related Video:


2019 Porsche 911 video review: 992 Carrera S tested on road and track

The new Porsche 911 is here. The 992 is the eighth-generation of Porsche’s iconic sports car and replaces the 991 model.

At launch, and so tested here by Prior, it’s only available in 444bhp (450hp) Carrera S form, but in both two and four wheel drive, both versions of which now have the same body width. It’s fitted with an eight-speed PDK twin clutch gearbox – a manual will be offered later – and stretches towards £100,000 in the UK.

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That’ll pitch it against some interesting rivals; probably everything from a Jaguar F-Type through a Mercedes-AMG GT to the likes of the Audi R8 and, in the faster 911 forms yet to come, the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage and McLaren 570S.

But what’s it like right now? We take to the track at Valencia and the roads surrounding it to find out.


New Porsche 911: eighth-generation sports car revealed

Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2019 review

Driven on track: 2019 Porsche 911 Carrera 2S