British car workers

'best in Europe'

Garel Rhys, chairman, Welsh Automotive Forum

WORKERS in UK motor vehicle manufacturing are the most efficient in Europe, according to leading automotive economist Professor Garel Rhys.

The former head of Cardiff Business School and President of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research Cardiff University, Prof Rhys also said Europe has more to loose if it "rashly" introduces tariffs on trade.

"Official figures for UK motor industry employment is 162,000 in 2015 which gives productivity figure of 10.5 vehicles-per-employee," said Prof Rhys.

"This order of magnitude of productivity explains why, in gross value added per head, UK motor industry employment efficiency is the highest in Europe."

To this industrial figure must be added employees in components manufacturing, motor retail, service and repair, logistic companies and related support services which bring the overall total to 814,000, he added.

"The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, to increase its political clout a few years ago lumped all the employees into one figure but this backfired on them when you then divided that total into the number of vehicles made which suggested UK motor manufacturing was highly inefficient compared to the rest of Europe and last year it would have been 2.1 vehicles per employee.

"Luckily this is not the case and when you use the official figure of 162,000 industry workers in 2015 it gives a productivity figure of 10.5 vehicles-per-employee, the highest in Europe," he said.

Prof Rhys, who is chairman of the Welsh Automotive Forum added that not only was UK vehicle production efficient the best in Europe but the nature of the industry meant Germany was heavily reliant on it as a customer base for components and manufacturing.

"Imports from the EU dominate the UK vehicle sales market, and 60 per cent of the value of systems and components used to make British cars are mainly imported from the EU," he said.

"Ultimately, almost 40 per cent of the UK market is in the hands of Germany and any tariffs introduced by the EU after Brexit, would severely hurt their industrial bases on the Continent, both supplying parts and then receiving completed vehicles which are exported. It makes no sense."

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