Car production in Britain hit a 17-year high in 2016, with 1.7 million models built here during the year. The 8.5% increase over the previous year saw 1.35 million cars shipped overseas – making it the second year running of record car exports.
Britain is the third-largest car producer in Europe, behind only Germany and France. What’s more, the country is the second-biggest maker of high-profit premium models, thanks to posh brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin.
More cars were made in Britain since 1999, from 15 different car factories across the UK. But which brands made the most cars of all? Here we’ve ranked them – revealing that two brands alone made more than a million cars between them…
1: Jaguar Land Rover – 544,401 cars
Almost 1 in 3 of all cars built in Britain last year were either Jaguars or Land Rovers. It builds cars in three regions, in Liverpool and the West Midlands, with 80% of what they build exported overseas. Total production of 544,401 cars was an 8% increase on the previous year.
2: Nissan – 507,444 cars
A booming Jaguar Land Rover means Nissan has lost its spot as Britain’s biggest car maker for the second year running – but it shouldn’t be downhearted. It still made more than half a million cars at the vast Sunderland facility, with the Qashqai leading the charge: the Juke, Leaf and Infiniti Q30 are also built there.
3: Mini – 210,972 cars
That oh-so-British of cars, the Mini, has been built in Britain ever since 1959. Today, the Plant Oxford factory continues to churn out Mini Hatch models, with more than 210,000 made there last year.
4: Toyota – 180,425 vehicles
Toyota is something of a forgotten British car producer, but it still made more than 180,000 cars last year: the Avensis and Auris are its stock in trade. Engines are also produced in Britain, and Burnaston even makes the popular hybrid version of the Auris. Let’s hope Toyota soon commits to building future generations of cars in the UK…
5: Honda – 134,145 cars
2016 was a transitional year for Honda – but an important one, because it became the only Honda factory in the world to start producing the new Civic hatchback. These will be exported overseas as well as sold in Britain: we can thus expect this 134k figure to start growing quickly going forward.
6: Vauxhall – 118,182 cars
Vauxhall makes the Astra at Ellesmere Port, and was boosted in 2016 by the car winning the prestigious European Car of the Year title. Now it’s fully on stream, with both hatchback and Sports Tourer estate made there, surely this 118k figure will start to grow further.
7: The others – 27,127 cars
Britain is home to a huge number of specialist car manufacturers alongside the world-renowned performance and luxury giants of Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. It’s clearly a thriving industry, with more than 27,000 specialist cars made here last year.
Where do cars built in Britain go to?
8 out of 10 cars built in Britain are actually exported overseas. This is great news for the nation’s economy – but where do all the cars go to? Here’s the top 10 rundown – prepare to be surprised…
1: EU – 56%
Yes, more than half the 1.7 million cars built in Britain were exported to Europe in 2016. It is by far our most important automotive trading partner – hence the importance of striking the right deal in the Brexit negotiations…
2: USA – 14.5%
North America is our second most important automotive trading partner, but some way behind the EU. Americans are particular fans of Jaguar Land Rover products, while the Mini is also exported there.
3: China – 6.5%
China is a huge market for car sales so this 6.5% figure may appear a little surprising – until you remember that the country’s demand for our cars is almost entirely top-end. Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley vehicles are all very popular, and the more extensive the add-on options, the better…
4: Turkey – 3.1%
Strong demand for vehicles from Toyota, Nissan and Vauxhall (badged Opel) makes Turkey a surprisingly large market for British-built cars.
5: Australia – 2.5%
Australia is another market that is a fan of luxurious British cars. What better models than Land Rover products to tackle the vast Outback, for example?
6: Japan – 1.9%
Japanese car makers don’t just dominate the UK car manufacturing scene, but some cars made here are actually sent into Japan as well. It was a very big deal indeed when the fantastic Honda Civic Type R started being exported there, for example…
7: Canada – 1.8%
Canada is a strong trading partner of UK automotive. Jaguar has even developed a range of all-wheel drive models that target the severe Canadian and North American winters: the vehicles are growing in popularity over there.
8: South Korea – 1.7%
The South Korean car market is a relatively small one, compared to the number of cars built there that we buy in Britain. The trading imbalance is partly offset by the fact many of the models sold there are high-value cars such as Bentleys and Land Rovers.
9: Israel – 1.1%
Surprised to see Israel among the top 10 countries British-built cars are exported to? 1.1% of volume isn’t huge, but it’s still bigger than another country that used to take many more cars built here…
10: Russia – 1%
The Russian new car market for Britain used to be much larger than this. Declines in recent years have been partly mitigated by the fact many British-built cars now sold in Russia are expensive ones.