Japanese Brands Lead British Electrified Car Surge, With 60% Market Share in 2018, Reveals The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

  • Japanese brands dominate UK”s electrified new car market, representing 59.5% of registrations YTD.
  • British demand for hybrid, plug-in-hybrid and zero emission cars surges 27.4% in first eight months, with UK now EU”s biggest alternatively fuelled vehicle market.[1]
  • Japan remains UK Auto”s second biggest Asian export market, as 60.5% more Japanese drivers choose British-built cars so far in 2018.[2]
  • Mutual benefits of Japan-UK trade and innovation highlighted at 31st Electric Vehicle Symposium in Kobe.

The ongoing strength of the automotive relationship between the UK and Japan was highlighted today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at the 31st Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS), the world”s largest electric mobility expo, in Kobe, Japan.

     (Logo: https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/634002/SMMT_Logo.jpg )

Latest figures from the UK trade body show that six out of 10 (59.5%) new hybrid, plug-in and pure electric vehicles registered by British buyers this year had a Japanese badge, with demand up by a fifth (18.5%) over the past 12 months.[3] Models enjoying particularly strong growth, included the hybrid Toyota Yaris (+47.9%) and Lexus NX (+24.7%, and the plug-in hybrid Toyata Prius (+109.4%).[4] Meanwhile the Nissan LEAF, which is manufactured in the UK for Europe, was the UK”s market leading pure electric vehicle, accounting for more than two fifths of registrations.

With a growing range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars and a reputation as a nation of earlier adopters of technology, the UK”s AFV market has surged in recent times, helping to secure the UK”s position as the second biggest plug-in market in Europe, only behind Germany.

Overall, 250,089 British motorists have chosen Japanese brands this year, with these models accounting for more than one in six (16.0%) of new car registrations. At the same time, 68,545 UK car buyers chose Japanese-built cars accounting for one in 20 new cars registered on British roads.[5]

Meanwhile, demand for UK-built cars in Japan has grown significantly in 2018, up 60.5% year on year in the first eight months of 2018. The country is now Britain”s second largest Asian car export market after China, driven by rising demand from Japanese motorists for premium and luxury models, for which the UK is renowned. After Germany, the UK is the EU”s second biggest manufacturer of premium products, including synonymously British brands Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren, MINI and Rolls Royce.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, ‘Our relationship with Japan has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years, based on a mutual commitment to trade, investment and innovation, with both countries benefitting greatly from its success. With our reputation for world class engineering and premium products, alongside ongoing government collaboration and huge investment to position the UK as a world leader in electric vehicles, strengthening our trade ties with Japan will no doubt significantly benefit both countries. While the recent signing of the EU-Japan Free Trade Deal could help increase trade, for the UK to benefit from open trade post-Brexit, we need long-term agreements with both the EU and Japan

The British automotive sector is a success story, employing some 856,000 people and worth some £82 billion. It has the highest productivity levels in Europe, a history and great expertise in engineering some of the world”s most sought-after brands, and is globally competitive, exporting 80% of vehicle production to over 160 global markets.

Government initiatives such as the Industrial Strategy and Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill help to position the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles, while billions of pounds of manufacturer, stakeholder and government investment is fuelling research and development into the technology. Current programmes include the Faraday Battery Challenge, a £246 million fund to support the development and industrialisation of new battery technologies, £30 million of support for the development of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies to enable vehicles to deliver electricity back to the smart grid, and market-based incentives such as the Plug-in Car and Van Grant. In addition, the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a £1 billion joint government and industry investment, has been created to accelerate development of low carbon propulsion technologies in the UK.

The Japan-UK automotive manufacturing relationship has a strong heritage, stretching back to 1981 when Honda set up a joint venture with British Leyland to develop and produce the Honda Ballade, combining Honda engine and transmission with a British Leyland body. By 1989, Honda was making engines at Swindon and five years later, the plant began producing the Civic. Meanwhile, in 1986 Nissan became the first Japanese manufacturer to open a British plant in Sunderland where currently it produces the Qashqai, Juke and the world”s best-selling EV, the LEAF. In 1992, Toyota entered the market with a factory at Burnaston in Derbyshire, where the Auris Hybrid model is built. Japanese component manufacturers have since followed suit, with some 50 suppliers now based in the UK including five of the world”s largest.

SMMT and a delegation of its UK-based members visit Japan this week to exhibit at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Kobe. Based at stand 331 in Hall C, Kobe Convention Centre, SMMT and its members will demonstrate the capabilities of UK Automotive, particularly in the area of electric vehicle technology, while highlighting its collaborative government, favourable legislative environment and rapidly growing plug-in car market.

UK Companies exhibiting at EVS Japan include:

  • The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) – A £1 billion UK Government and industry programme to facilitate funding, provide expertise and enable collaboration to create low emission technologies.  
  • Crowd Charge Ltd – An intelligent data-based platform that works to provide smart, clean, cheap, flexible charging solutions while balancing demand on the electricity grid.
  • Drive System Design – An award winning engineering consultancy, working to refine future powertrains and associated technologies.
  • Intelligent Energy Ltd – A fuel cell engineering company development and commercialisation of Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. Headquartered in the UK with representation in Japan.
  • Pro Drive – A world leading motorsport and technology group designing, developing and manufacturing advanced engineering solutions.
  • Sunamp Automotive – Develops, manufactures and sells compact, highly efficient advanced thermal storage technology called Heat Batteries that can be used to store heat for later use.

Top 5 British-built bestsellers in Japan 


Top 5 Japanese car models registered in the UK  

  4. MAZDA CX-5

Top 5 plug-in vehicles in the UK  


Notes to editors 

  1. Alternatively fuelled vehicles include hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid cars, battery electric cars and fuel cell cars.  
  2. 28,414 in 2018 compared to 17,704 in 2017.  
  3. 54,200 in 2018 compared to 45,751 in 2017. 
  4. Toyota Yaris = 9,801 in 2018 compared to 6,626 in 2017. Lexus NX = 3,013 in 2018 compared to 2,365 in 2017. Toyota Prius = 535 in 2018 and 256 in 2017. 
  5. Year-to-date UK car registrations = 1,571,986.  

About SMMT and the UK automotive industry 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media.

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £82 billion turnover and £20.2 billion value added. With some 186,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and 856,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 12.8% of total UK export of goods and invests £3.65 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 manufacturers build some 70 models of vehicle in the UK supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world”s most skilled engineers.

More detail on UK automotive available in SMMT”s Motor Industry Facts 2018 publication at smmt.co.uk/facts18

Broadcasters: SMMT has an ISDN studio and access to expert spokespeople, case studies and regional representatives. 

KOBE, Japan, September 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ —