American demand for British-built cars rose in 2017, as increasing popularity of the UK’s ever-growing range of premium, luxury and sports cars, helped drive UK automotive exports to the country. Latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), show almost 210,000 US buyers chose a UK-made car last year, an uplift of 7.0%.
A total of 1,671,166 vehicles rolled off UK production lines in 2017, a -3.0% decrease on 2016 – but still the second highest output since the turn of the century. Export demand from 160 markets worldwide now represents 79.9% of all UK car output – the highest proportion for five years.
The EU remained the UK’s biggest trading partner, taking more than half (53.9%) of all exports, while global appetite for British-built cars rose in several key markets. Among those showing notable growth were Japan (+25.4%), China (+19.7%) and Canada (+19.5%).
However, the US remained the UK’s biggest individual customer, with American drivers buying more British-built cars than those in any other single country. In 2017, 209,946 cars left British production lines destined for US roads, with the country boosting its share of UK exports to 15.7% – up from 14.5% in 2016. Meanwhile, in the UK, 34,868 British buyers invested in cars from American factories, representing 1.3% of the UK new car market.
The UK’s reputation as a center for excellence in engine design and manufacture was also boosted in 2017, as billions of pounds of investment helped drive production to record levels, with demand for British-built engines growing at home and overseas. Overall UK engine output rose 6.9% to more than 2.7 million units – with 54.7% destined for car and van plants around the world. In fact, the UK exports some £7.9 billion worth of components each year to help build vehicles in the US.
World class engineering and products, a supportive government and massive investment have helped establish the UK as one of the most productive and innovative places in the world to develop and build cars. Today’s figures underline the highly integrated nature of the global automotive sector, with interdependent supply chains and mutually beneficial trade delivering choice to car buyers. It is vital that we maintain open trade links with the US, as well as our EU partners, for the benefit of consumers and our respective industries and economies.
— Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive
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.