Wednesday, 24 October 2007

UK car production on the up

According to the SMMT, UK vehicle production was up 2.1% at the end of September on a year-to-date basis, at 1.29 million.

This means full year production is likely to be not far off the highs achieved in the early Seventies and then again in the first few years of this decade. Thats a remarkable achievement considering that the last few years have seen the closure of Peugeot's plant at Ryton, Vauxhall's Luton works, and the final car assembly end of Ford's Dagenham operation - not to mention the demise of MG Rover.

It is a little remarked upon fact that Britain has lost almost an entire car industry in the last twenty or so years but gained almost an entire new one as well. The old 'Big Four' volume manufacturers - Leyland, Ford, Chrysler/Rootes and Vauxhall, have with the exception of Vauxhall largely disappeared in terms of UK production. What we have in their place are new Japanese plants run by Honda, Toyota and Nissan, as well as revived, previously niche-bound but now massively expanded prestige operations such as Bentley, Aston, Rolls, Land Rover and MINI - only Jaguar isn't really living up to its potential, and even that may change once the new XF hits the market.

One by-product of this shift is that not only is the industry almost as big as it's ever been, but the average value of the cars being made is probably a lot higher. Notwithstanding the possible rationalisation of Land Rover's and Jaguar's production facilities after Ford has sold these off, I think we will now hold on to most of what is left of the British industry.

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