Nissan, Morgan and Rolls Royce (BMW) all posted record outputs that year from their respective UK plants, Professor Garel Rhys told the Aluminium in Automotive Conference, in Birmingham UK.

Nissan produced 423,000 vehicles, Rolls Royce 3,215 vehicles and Morgan 700. Mr Rhys said that the Nissan figures were incredible and that no other UK carmaker had passed the 400,000 figure before.

Prof Rhys said the figures prove the UK is still a major vehicle manufacturer in terms of what it can do.

Its strengths are in the design of vehicles and their components and the range in vehicles it can produce, including cars, buses, vans systems and trucks but needs to improve its R&D and production of coaches (chassis) small people carriers and small panel vans.

Its ‘Silicon Valley’ Prof Rhys pointed out, was the motor sport industry where there is a large cluster of motor racing companies employing 50,000 people and with turnover of £1.8bn. Its design houses also play a prominent role with their focus on styling, engineering, systems, tool design and safety.

These employ about 5000 people and have a turnover of £0.75bn. Many of the students involved with these design houses tend to go abroad and all links are lost with them, which was a waste of an incredible resource, Prof Rhys said.

Hot markets are Germany because of the size of its industry, the UK because of the potential of the industry and India because of its growth potential and sustainable structure.

The advantages of using aluminium in vehicles include its light weight compared to steel, it is rustproof and can be combined with other metals to produce alloys and can be combined with magnesium and copper to optimise temperature resistance and tensile strength.

The Aluminium in Automotive Conference is organised by the UK’s Aluminium Federation and the Aluminium Alloy Manufacturing & Recycling Association. About 100 delegates attended the event which features 16 presentations, an evening dinner and a plant visit to the Jaguar Land Rover Plant in Castle Bromwich, UK.

A detailed review of the conference will appear in a forthcoming issue of AIT.