The British Motor Industry

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Sir,

I have recently returned to this country after several years abroad, during which I have seen a decline in the sales—and the reputation—of the British Motor Industry. Poor representation, inadequate service, and inability to compete have all contributed to this country now being a net importer. I believe your excellent magazine has done as much as anyone can to bring this sad state of affairs home, but I wonder whether, in the aftermath of the Chrysler affair, I might add a few points?

While driving recently through France and Spain I was struck by the number of new, or recently rebuilt, garages sporting the Chrysler-star. Obviously, Chrysler France have been obliging their dealers to invest in improvements designed to give their clients better service, and succeeding in selling cars! Friends of mine in the Motor Industry here tell me that distributors and dealers are not prepared to re-invest their profits from car sales, and at the present time, who can blame them? The Think Tank report rightly distributes the blame between the shop floor and management, but surely one of the problems has been the lack of market research and the fact that the manufacturers have been for too long producing the type of car they (wrongly) feel the public wants, rather than seeking to satisfy the public itself. (Surely this is the reason for over 30% Import sales and a major contribution to a trade deficit of £2.3-billion, with the Common Market countries alone, this year?).

So now we have the Government eommiffed to ploughing in hundreds of millions of pounds to shore up the Industry over the next few years. If British Leyland are to get up to £1.4-billion and Chrysler another £162-million, this means around £1.5-billion over the next ten years, if not more. If the British Motor Industry produces around one million units a year, or ten million over ten years, this means that every British car produced carries a Government subsidy of £150. But we must be fair; the subsidy will only go to 60% or so of the vehicles, produced by Leyland and Chrysler, so that their vehicles are subsidised to the tune of not £150, but £250. How long will Ford and Vauxhall be able to go on competing under such circumstances? Surely the Government would have done better to think up a plan that would aid the Industry as a whole and not merely its lame ducks?

Chrysler UK probably became a lame duck because of something that happened before Chrysler took over from Rootes—the disastrous move into Scotland. I’m extremely pro Scottish myself, but what was the rationale of siting a major production unit so far from the producers of components in the first place? Under the present circumstances, moving Avenger production to Scotland will only increase production costs, as all components will have to be transported there.

For Chrysler to continue production in Scotland is a purely political decision, not an economic one—the expediency of protecting jobs. We were told that if Chrysler folded, 25,000 jobs would go. But as it is, a full third of these jobs will go anyway, so would it not have been better for production to remain concentrated in the Midlands and let the wise old Government find a means of protecting jobs in Scotland without endangering the economic viability of the Motor Industry?

The availability of labour, and the need for jobs, is probably the main reason why the “emerging” nations, not yet techoologieally equipped to operate a motor industry, start up assembly operations. At such a stage of the nation’s technological progress, the labour is not really capable of doing more than a simple assembly operation. With the Ryton plant now due to become a KD assembly operation, I can only assume— since at one time we had a pretty good industrial base—that we must now be officially classed a “submerging” nation.

It’s a shame, really, because I’m sure that if it was properly organised our Motor Industry could make a comeback. Our machine tools are still the best, and our component industries, Lucas, GKN, etc.—are still capable of stealing business from foreign competitors in their own countries. I personally believe that the root cause lies in the great number of models that arc being produced. Ford is probably successful because its range is fairly tight. The options available means that there are overlapping Models in the range—but no duplications. In contrast, look at the number of different cars available from BL at between 1,750 c.c. and 2,200 c.c. Whatever happened to the rationalisation programme we were led to expect at the time of the Leyland series of mergers? I imagine we can look forward now to a completely new range from Chrysler, but how long will it be before Leyland begin to produce a definite range of vehicles rather than a hotch-potch of inter-competing lines? I am sure that BL could find a rational way of using all its marques—including those traditional ones that are again threatened with extinction—but using them to signify just one specific product. The alternative seems to be to look forward to the day, not many years hence, when the British market will have less than half a dozen choices of cars to buy, most of them foreign.

Sandwich Michael Chapman

Related articles

Related products