A collection of British-built carsMore than 1.2 million cars were exported from British car factories in 2015, setting a new all-time record – an achievement the SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes described as a deserved and hard fought for result.

The UK production total of 1,587677 vehicles in 2015 is also a 10-year high, rising 3.9% in a year and putting British factories on track to break the record of most cars ever built within a few years.

That’s a record that’s stood since the early 1970s.

Over 3 in 4 cars built here were exported, reports the SMMT in its analysis of 2015 results, most of which went to Europe: the EU accounts for 57.5% of all UK car exports. And these export results has delighted Chancellor George Osborne.

“Today we see the industry going from strength to strength.

“I am hugely encouraged that manufacturing is at a 10-year high and exports ‎are at a record level. All this means jobs and the security of a pay packet for workers and their families.”

The challenge now, he added, is to ensure Britain remains a “global leader in car production”.

No guarantees

It wasn’t all good news though. Weaknesses in China mean demand there fell 37.5%, which will be worrying to the UK’s premium car manufactures who were sending growing numbers of high-value cars there.

Russia was also down 69.4%, reflecting economic troubles. Hawes reflected this but added that “despite export challenges in some key markets such as Russia and China, foreign demand for British-built cars has been strong.

“Continued growth in an intensely competitive global marketplace is far from guaranteed, however, and depends heavily on global economic conditions and political stability.”

This year’s EU referendum is also a potential obstacle – and the SMMT made it clear which was the best choice for the UK car industry.

“Europe is our biggest trading partner and the UK’s membership of the European Union is vital for the automotive sector in order to secure future growth and jobs.”

Top 10 markets for British built cars

  1. EU: 57.5%
  2. US: 10.9%
  3. China: 7.0%
  4. Turkey: 2.8%
  5. Australia: 2.8%
  6. Russia: 2.0%
  7. Japan: 1.8%
  8. South Korea: 1.7%
  9. Canada: 1.2%
  10. Israel: 1.2%