"Which European country produces the most vehicles?"

Forget the football - Mike Rutherford's rounding up the car-manufacturing championships - and some of the finalists may surprise you

Yes, yes, I know the Euro 2016 final won’t be played until later. But there’s no need to wait until then to discover which of the 24 competing countries is Europe’s number one – in vehicle production terms.

Before I name the champ, runner-up, plus the also-rans, it’s my sad duty to reveal that six of the 24 build few if any vehicles – Albania, Croatia, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and Wales, although the latter will soon be blessed with an Aston Martin factory.

UK car production approaches record high

Northern Ireland’s sole maker – Wrightbus – churns out just 1,300 a year, while Ukraine is a shadow of its former self (only around 8,000 vehicles built in 2015, according to official figures). Austria (126,000), Portugal (157,000) and Sweden (189,000) make far fewer than I imagined. Meanwhile, the only way is up for emerging Romania (387,000) and its increasingly popular Dacia brand.

NIssan Qashqai plant, factory, build, plant, sunderland

Once mighty Belgium (409,000) is in the dumps and paying the price for not having its own national car company. Hungary (495,000) is achingly close to reaching the psychologically important half million mark it craves, while Poland (661,000) is doing fine as it builds the Fiat 500s that many buyers assume are made in Italy.

Weirdly and without explanation, the latest ‘fact’ book from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders fails to mention Slovakia (1.0 million) as a European Top 10 automotive manufacturer – which it undoubtedly is now and will be in future when Jaguar Land Rover opens a factory there. Italy (1.0m) should be doing better – especially as it now enjoys the added bonus of building Jeeps on its soil. Thanks largely to the Skoda phenomenon, the Czech Republic (1.3m) is still on a roll, as are Turkey (1.3m) and Russia (1.4m).

Jaguar Land Rover confirms factory in Slovakia

England (1.7m) boasts dozens of vehicle manufacturers but, so far, not quite the annual production volumes to beat fellow semi-finalist, France (2.0m). Give it time. Underdog Spain (2.7m) isn’t exactly blessed with a bunch of homegrown vehicle makers and therefore deserves huge credit for securing a place in the final. But Germany (6m) is again the undisputed champion of Europe and is clearly unstoppable… this year, next year and for many years to come.

Do you think England stands a chance of ever producing more vehicles than France, Spain, or Germany? Let us know in the comments below...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

Most Popular

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2024 review: big estate with value boost
Jaguar XF Sportbrake - front tracking
Road tests

New Jaguar XF Sportbrake 2024 review: big estate with value boost

Jaguar's XF Sportbrake may be 8 years old but it just got a whole lot cheaper!
7 Dec 2023
Deal of the Day: Volkswagen ID. Buzz brings retro-style and practicality for £311 per month
Volkswagen ID. Buzz - front cornering

Deal of the Day: Volkswagen ID. Buzz brings retro-style and practicality for £311 per month

All-electric MPV offers style and substance - making it our Deal of the Day for Wednesday 6 December
6 Dec 2023
Toyota Yaris review
Toyota Yaris - front tracking
In-depth reviews

Toyota Yaris review

An efficient hybrid powertrain and plenty of standard kit make the Toyota Yaris a key contender in the supermini segment
6 Dec 2023