Market Overview

SMMT: US Demand for British Cars Grows in First Six Months With Nearly 110,000 Cars Crossing the Atlantic


SMMT: US Demand for British Cars Grows in First Six Months With Nearly 110,000 Cars Crossing the Atlantic

PR Newswire

LONDON, July 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

  • US demand for UK-built cars rises 1.5% in first six months of 2018, as market responds to growing range of premium and high performance models
  • America remains UK Auto's second largest market after the EU, with more than 108,000 US motorists buying British in first half
  • US runs annual £1.3 billion trade surplus in parts and accessories, as American components worth £4.8 billion help build British cars
  • Global demand drives output, with 80.9% of UK-built cars exported to 160 countries worldwide

American demand for British-built cars rose by 1.5% in the first six months of 2018 with more than 108,000 motorists choosing one, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Increasing popularity of the UK's growing range of premium, luxury and high performance cars helped drive UK exports, which, although down by a marginal -0.8%, accounted for more than eight out of every 10 cars produced.

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A total of 834,402 vehicles rolled off UK production lines from January to June, a -3.3% decrease on the same period in 2017 as the domestic market was affected by factors, including tax changes and uncertainty over future policies on diesel. The UK Government's recognition in its Road to Zero Strategy of the critical role this advanced technology will play for years to come is hoped to restore this certainty over the coming months.

Meanwhile, exports to some 160 countries worldwide now represent 80.9% of all UK car output. In the first six months, global demand grew in a number of markets, notably India (+83%), Japan (+77.3%) and South Korea (+67.8%), while China maintained its position as the UK's third biggest customer after the EU and US, taking 6.4% of exports. Although British-built cars for EU customers fell -3.6% in the first half of the year, Europe remained the UK's biggest trading partner, accounting for more than half of all cars produced for export (53.4%). EU countries make up half of UK Automotive's top 10 export destinations, highlighting the importance of continued free and frictionless trade with the bloc.

The US has also retained its position as the UK's largest customer outside of the EU, with American drivers buying more British-built cars than those in any other single country. In the first half of 2018, 108,307 cars crossed the Atlantic from the UK, up 1.5% on the same period last year and taking 16% of all exports.

However, the US-UK automotive trading relationship is not only based on exports. In the UK, almost 20,000 British buyers invested in cars built in US factories in the first six months of the year, representing 1.5% of the market. Meanwhile, both countries enjoy a lucrative trade in vehicle components - with the US running a significant £1.3 billion surplus from the Anglo-American trade in parts and accessories. While the US buys an annual £3.5 billion worth of components from the UK, more than £4.8 billion worth of parts from America help build UK-made vehicles every year.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT, said, "The US is one of UK Automotive's most important global partners, with our trade in vehicles and components working both ways, so we welcome the announced new phase of dialogue between the EU and US. In principle, a progressive elimination of tariffs and the removal of non-tariff barriers would provide a boost to both our economies, as well as increasing choice for consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. Our sector is committed to free and fair trade and we urge negotiators to explore options that avoid restrictive measures to automotive trade and solve any ongoing tensions."

Top 5 British best-sellers in America 

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About SMMT and the UK automotive industry 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media.

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £82 billion turnover and £20.2 billion value added. With some 186,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and 856,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 12.8% of total UK export of goods and invests £3.65 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 manufacturers build some 70 models of vehicle in the UK supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world's most skilled engineers.

More detail on UK automotive available in SMMT's Motor Industry Facts 2018 publication at    

Broadcasters: SMMT has an ISDN studio and access to expert spokespeople, case studies and regional representatives. 

SOURCE Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

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