More Chinese motorists choose Britain's premium cars in 2017, with demand up almost a fifth.
China remains UK Automotive's third biggest trading partner after EU and USA.
1.67 million cars built in the UK, a fall of -3.0% but the second biggest output for 17 years.
Global demand drives volume, with 79.9% of UK-built cars exported - the highest in five years.
British engine manufacturing reaches record levels, with 2.72 million produced - up 6.9% on 2016.
Chinese demand for British-built cars rose by almost a fifth in 2017, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Increasing popularity of the UK's ever-growing range of premium, luxury and sports cars, helped drive UK automotive exports, which, although down by a moderate -1.1%, accounted for eight out of every 10 cars produced.
A total of 1,671,166 vehicles rolled off UK production lines last year, a -3.0% decrease on 2016 - but still the second highest output since the turn of the century. Export demand from 160 markets worldwide now represents 79.9% of all UK car output - the highest proportion for five years.
The EU remained the UK's biggest trading partner in 2017, taking more than half (53.9%) of all exports, while global appetite for British-built cars rose in several key markets. Among those showing notable growth were Japan (+25.4%), Canada (+19.5%) and the US (+7.0%).
China remained the UK's third largest buyer of cars after the EU and US, accounting for 7.5% of exports, with demand growing substantially as the sector adjusted to regulatory changes governing new car imports. Some 100,376 Chinese car buyers chose British-built brands in 2017 - all of them from premium manufacturers, for which the UK is renowned.
The UK's reputation as a centre for excellence in engine design and manufacture was also boosted in 2017, as billions of pounds of investment helped drive production to record-ever levels, with demand growing at home and overseas. Overall UK engine output rose 6.9% to more than 2.7 million units - with 54.7% destined for car and van plants around the world. In fact, the UK exports some £1.5 billion worth of components each year to help build vehicles in Asia, while importing more than double that from the region.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "World class engineering, strong partnership with government and massive investment have helped establish the UK as one of the most productive and innovative places in the world to develop and build cars. China is a key market for UK Automotive, as well as a crucial trading partner in terms of materials and components. With both sectors already investing significantly in each other's countries, a strengthened UK-China trading relationship would deliver even greater dividends to our industries and economies."
manufacturing Dec-16 Dec-17 % Change YTD-16 YTD-17 % Change
Total 113,976 100,604 -11.7% 1,722,698 1,671,166 -3.0%
Home 18,669 14,078 -24.6% 373,255 336,628 -9.8%
Export 95,307 86,526 -9.2% 1,349,443 1,334,538 -1.1%
% export 83.6% 86.0% 78.3% 79.9%