But No Thanks To British Owned Companies
It’s hard to think what British owned car companies we have left in the UK, but despite that, the car industry is thriving, with Great Britain PLC becoming a major exporter of cars to the value of around £25 billion a year and employing around 700,000 people.
The real shame is we don’t seem to own much anymore, and the new foreign owners seem to be achieving what our own highly acclaimed, highly paid captains of industry were simply unable to do.
Just look at some of the historic British brands which are now owned by overseas companies, such as Jaguar and Land Rover which are now owned by Indian company Tata Motors, Rolls Royce who are owned by BMW, Bentley who are owned by Volkswagen, Lotus Cars are owned by Malaysian Proton Holdings, Vauxhall are owned by US giant General Motors, Mini is owned by BMW, MG Motors is owned by the Shanghai Motor Company and you have to begin to question why we couldn’t make a go of them, whilst their foreign owners are quite clearly able to do so.
Just look at Mini alone, well BMW have made over 2 million cars at the Mini plant in Oxford since 2001, of which 1.5 million have been exported to customers in more than 90 different countries.
Honda, Nissan, Toyota alone produces 870,000 cars a year in the UK whilst Tata churn out almost 300,000 Jaguars & Land Rovers and BMW make over 260,000 Mini’s and most of these cars all go to export, which is great, but why oh why couldn’t we manage to do that ourselves?
So, our motor industry is strong, our workers deliver a great product and with the help of their foreign owners, we achieve huge export figures, accounting for more than 10% of the UK’s total exports.
Perhaps one of the main reasons is that no one was prepared to invest (blaming it on a volatile workforce), much preferring to ‘under-invest’ and to stick the loot in the back pocket and that’s certainly not the case nowadays, as BMW have just announced a further £500 million investment into UK plant over the next 3 years, taking the total BMW UK investment up to £1.5 billion since 2000 and safeguarding over 5,000 jobs.
Nissan have a great UK facility in Sunderland and a very recently announced a £192 million pound investment to build next generation Qashqai, and thats a testament to the quality of the product British workers are producing the 192 million comes on the back of a further investment of around £420 million for production of the Nissan Leaf all electric vehicle from 2013.
Honda’s investment in the UK amounts to around £1.4 billion, whilst Toyota has £1.75 billion invested.
The government welcomed these announcements which fit in with its strategy of trying to lift manufacturing as the country struggles to recover from the financial crisis and ensuing recession. UK Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted as saying “They have shown once again that the UK is a major player in the global automotive industry” (yeh right!)
Words however are cheap, as it wasn’t so long ago that the government of the day rejected Jaguars plea for help leaving its new owners to fund the project externally, but in May this year, Jaguar / Land Rover (who employ 17,000 workers in the UK) were able to announce a £1 billion pound profit for the year (which the taxpayer could have been getting a piece of had our government had the courage to back the project and workers in the UK).