Just over 1.7m cars were produced in the UK in 2016, an increase of 8.5% on 2015, and the highest number for 17 years, according to figures realised by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Exports drove this growth. In total, 1.3m cars were built in the UK for export – an increase of 10.3%. Overall this meant that 78.8% of all cars built in the UK were destined for foreign consumption.

Just over half of these (56%) were exported to the EU, while the US accounted for 14.5% of exports. The SMMT noted that demand for British made cars in the US grew by 47.5% in 2016. It added that notable uplifts were also seen in Turkey, Japan and Canada.

Half of the top ten best-selling British made car models were Land Rovers (the Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport) or Jaguars (the F-Pace and XE). In total, Jaguar Land Rover manufactured 544,401 cars in 2016, an increase of 11.1% year-on-year.

The Nissan Qashqai, built in Sunderland, was the best-selling British made car in worldwide, however.

While growth wasn’t quite as strong for cars built for domestic use, it still increased by 2.4% year-on-year, to 359,796. One in seven new cars registered by UK buyers is now made in Britain, up from one in eight three years ago.

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By GlobalData

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The tremendous growth in UK production is testament to the global competitiveness of the UK automotive sector. High class engineering, advanced technology and a workforce committed to quality have helped turn around the industry, making the UK among the most productive places in Europe to make cars.

“Significant investment in new plants and products over the past few years has driven this growth, not a post-Brexit bounce. We want trade deals but they must be the right deals, not rushed deals. Failure to do so could damage the UK automotive manufacturing beyond repair.”