American demand for British-built cars rose in 2017, as increasing popularity of the U.K.’s ever-growing range of premium, luxury and sports cars helped drive U.K. automotive exports to the country. The latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show almost 210,000 U.S. buyers chose a U.K.-made car last year, an uplift of 7 percent.
A total of 1,671,166 vehicles rolled off U.K. production lines in 2017, a -3 percent 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 percent of all U.K. car output – the highest proportion for five years.
The EU remained the U.K.’s biggest trading partner, taking more than half (53.9 percent) of all exports, while global appetite for British-built cars rose in several key markets. Among those showing notable growth were Japan (+25.4 percent), China (+19.7 percent) and Canada (+19.5 percent).
However, the U.S. remained the U.K.’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 U.S. roads, with the country boosting its share of U.K. exports to 15.7 percent – up from 14.5 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, in the U.K., 34,868 British buyers invested in cars from American factories, representing 1.3 percent of the U.K. new car market.
The U.K.’s reputation as a center for excellence in engine design and manufacture also was 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 U.K. engine output rose 6.9 percent to more than 2.7 million units – with 54.7 percent destined for car and van plants around the world. In fact, the U.K. exports some £7.9 billion (approximately $9.89 billion USD) worth of components each year to help build vehicles in the U.S.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “World-class engineering and products, a supportive government and massive investment have helped establish the U.K. 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 U.S., as well as our EU partners, for the benefit of consumers and our respective industries and economies.”