Carmakers in the UK have seen a jump in exports of more than 21% in the first quarter of 2012 on the same period last year, accounting for £6.1 billion ($9.7m) worth of vehicles. It is the first time the country has exported more vehicles than it has imported since 1976. The record high in volume exports promises welcome business for road hauliers and port  operators in the UK.
Production in the first quarter was up by 12.3% to more than 400,000 vehicles with 80% of them exported. Nissan, Mini, Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover led the field in terms of vehicles exported abroad from the UK.
The results follow significant investment in the UK from carmakers equal to £4 billion in 18 months.
The increase is reported to be largely driven by growth in exports to countries outside the European Union which are up by 28.5%. Strongest demand is from the US, China and Russia. While the value of cars exported to EU countries has increased by 9.5%, the Europe Union remains a sluggish market for exports but in Eastern Europe and Russia they are up. For example, in Eastern Europe, Nissan reported a 23% rise in demand for its cars in April. In Russia, Nissan sold 2,500 units more than last year, boosting its monthly share to 4.8% (0.6% above 2011).
Nissan has also made a number of announcements about increased output from its Sunderland plant in the UK, including the building of a B-segment vehicle from next year and a new midsized hatchback model in 2014 that will bring annual output at the plant to more than half a million units.
Jaguar Land Rover, meanwhile, is also seeing healthy growth, helping to lessen the decline in sales experienced by its Indian owner Tata Motors. JLR sales were hit more than 25,000 vehicles during April, up 29% from the same month last year.
In the UK, JLR has said it will be spending an additional £1 billion with UK automotive suppliers over the next four years, thanks to continued global demand for the Range Rover Evoque. The company has already sold more than 60,000 of the models globally.
It is also building a logistics facility at Ellesmere Port to facilitate inbound material to its facility at Halewood, which makes the Evoque as well as the Land Rover Freelander 2.
DHL is managing the 37,000 square-foot facility and will provide a range of inbound logistics services.

"We are delighted to continue our support for JLR's ever-growing expansion plans, said Paul Dyer, managing director of DHL Supply Chain's automotive services in the UK and Ireland. "As the UK's North West region is fast becoming a major supply chain hub for the automotive industry, this new facility will greatly enhance the next stage of the company's development and future success."

In addition, JLR has said it will invest around £200m on expanding its Castle Bromwich facility by 50% for production of the new Jaguar F-Type sports car, the successor to the historic E-type.
Confirmation is also expected tomorrow that Ellesmere Port's Vauxhall plant has been saved and will produce the next generation Astra in conjunction with GM Europe's plant in Gliwice, Poland. UK business secretary, Vince Cable, and Steve Girsky, GM's vice chairman plan to visit the Vauxhall site at Ellesmere port on Thursday this week.
The Astra was amongst the top listed vehicles accounting for the export jump in the UK.