The UK produced more than 1.6 million cars in the first 11 months of 2016, beating the same period in 2015 by 9.6% and marking the country’s best result since 1999.
A total of 1,613,495 cars were produced, with 78% (1,258,909) of them being shipped abroad. At the same point in 2015, around 56,000 fewer cars had been produced.
Output continued to grow in November, with 169,247 cars built across the four weeks, representing 12.8% growth on the year before and the strongest result for the month in 17 years.
The chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Mike Hawes, said: “'Made in Britain' is a badge coveted by car buyers worldwide, and these latest figures highlight not just that international appeal but also the fact that the UK is a globally competitive place to make cars.
“These latest results are the product of significant investments made over the past few years, but which will continue only if we can maintain the competitive trading conditions that have enabled the UK to become an automotive success story.”
UK engine manufacturing also rose to record-breaking levels, with a 20% increase in output recorded in November after a total of 250,879 units were produced.
Most of the engines were for British customers, with domestic demand up by 36.1% in November and surpassing the one million mark in the year to date for the first time. Conversely, engine exports were down by 6.4% on the same period from the year before.
Overall year-to-date engine output has reached 2.4m, which is 7.7% up on the first 11 months in 2015.
“November’s surge in demand for UK-built engines is good news and thanks to billions of pounds of recent investment in new plants to serve Britain’s booming vehicle manufacturing sector," said Hawes. "However, although domestic supply is growing rapidly – up some 70% since records began in 2009 – overseas demand still accounts for more than half of production. If this important sector’s growth is to continue, the right trading conditions must be maintained to keep the whole industry internationally competitive.”
Britain’s strong production results come at a time when European car sales are at their highest levels since 2007. Despite concerns that an unpredictable global economy and the Brexit vote would damage consumer confidence and hamper sales, Europeans bought 13,937,339 in the first 11 months of the year, representing growth of 6.8% on the year before.
The UK was Europe’s fourth fastest-growing market, with sales here up by 2.9% on 2015.