LONDON (Reuters) - British car production reached its highest level since 2007 last year, buoyed by strong domestic demand and exports outside the European Union, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Thursday.
Car production totalled 1.510 million in 2013, up 3.1 percent from 1.465 million in 2012 and a stronger performance than other areas of British industry, where output is still lower than before the financial crisis even though the economy is growing again.
Car sales in 2013 were also their highest since 2007 at 2.265 million, according to figures earlier this month, and the SMMT predicts that production could exceed 1972's all-time peak of 1.92 million in 2017.
Around 80 percent of the cars produced in Britain last year were exported, with sales split roughly evenly between the European Union and elsewhere - a sharp turnaround from a few years ago when the EU accounted for 70 percent of exports.
China, Russia and the United States are the main non-EU markets for British cars, each accounting for around 10 percent of exports. Jaguar Land Rover's luxury off-road vehicles and sports cars have been particularly successful abroad.
Nissan <7201.T> produced the most cars in Britain in 2013, followed by Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota <7203.T>. Other major manufacturers include BMW's Mini
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Susan Fenton)