Jaguar
Jaguar recently announced plans to expand its plant in the outskirts of WolverhamptonGetty

Car plants in the UK produced 793,642 vehicles in the first six months of the year, the highest half-year output since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, fresh figures show.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said strong overseas demand for British cars had driven a 5.4% year-on-year increase in June to 143,759 units.

The number of cars built for export, which accounted for 80% of the June output, surged 9% to 115,408, but those built for the domestic market fell 7.1% to 28,351.

In the first six months of the year, a car was produced every 20 seconds.

"Today's figures are testament to the ever-increasing demand for the diverse, high-quality range of cars we make in the UK," said Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT.

"The sector is ahead of the game on productivity, with investment in efficient, high-tech manufacturing processes and a highly skilled workforce resulting in huge gains over the past decade."

Production volumes were up 50% from 2009 and, with significant investments continuing to pour in, SMMT said the UK car industry "is growing on a global scale".

The figures also suggested the car industry is leading the way on productivity in the UK, with the sector achieving £100,000 in value added per employee in 2014, compared with £74,000 in 2010.

This was double the £50,000 average per employee for the UK economy as a whole.

"This success has been built on significant industry investment and has also relied on a positive relationship with the government, essential if the industry is to maintain its international competitiveness," Hawes added.