News: UK celebrates record car exports but Russia could spoil the fun

Putin considering his options

Range Rover exports

UK CAR makers celebrating record exports are keeping a close eye on Russia amid reports that the country may extend its current trade sanctions to include cars.

New figures show that since 2010, Britain has exported 5m cars, the best performance of any decade according to the SMMT. The figure means that almost eight out of 10 cars made in the UK are exported. Customers’ appetite for luxury brands helped lift the average value of each car an impressive 100%  to £20,600, compared with £10,200 in 2004.

The EU is Britain’s biggest export market, accounting for 50% of UK-made models. It is followed by China, which imports 10% of UK car production.

According to the SMMT, UK car production will increase from 1.6m cars in 2014, to 1.92m in 2017. Exports are predicted to grow accordingly, supported by increased manufacturer investment, good industrial relations and rising levels of wealth in emerging markets.

Search for and buy used cars here

However, reports that Russia, which takes 9.7% of Britain’s car and commercial vehicle production, might be considering banning imports of cars in retaliation for economic restrictions applied to it over the Ukraine conflict, could upset those buoyant predictions.

Two days ago, President Vladimir Putin was reported as saying that banning the import of cars remained an option if Western nations extend their current sanctions. Some Western countries have factories in Russia, which means some of their models might escape any ban, but Britain does not.

One major UK car maker with a strong presence in Russia is Jaguar Land Rover. Its exports to the country are rising and currently stand at around 11% of output. A spokeswoman said the company was unaware of any sanctions.

“We have a strong brand presence in Russia but have not been notified of any change. We’re monitoring things closely.”