LONDON (Reuters) - Record exports last year lifted British car production to its highest level since 2007, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said on Thursday.
The largely foreign-owned car industry has been one of the few bright spots in the British economy, which needs all the help it can get to avoid a third period of contraction since the 2008 financial crisis.
On Sunday Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors (TAMO.NS), said that it plans to create 800 jobs at a factory in central England to help it to meet rising demand for its premium cars in China and elsewhere.
Britain produced a total of 1.46 million vehicles in 2012, up 9 percent on 2011, with 1.21 million of those sold abroad, the SMMT said.
December's car output climbed to 101,740 vehicles, up 6.2 percent on the previous year.
"The outlook for 2013 remains positive, with demand in many faster-growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies," SMMT Chief Executive Paul Everitt said.
The SMMT said that 50 percent of Britain's exports went outside the European Union.
(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by David Goodman)