If we’re still in recession, it appears no one’s told the UK’s car makers who produced 120,000 cars in July alone, an increase of 22 per cent over the same month in 2011 and the 13th consecutive month of growth from the industry. Almost four in five will be exported.
Honda is investing £267 million in its Swindon plant, its largest investment in the UK in over a decade. Jaguar Land Rover is putting on a third shift at Halewood to cope with demand for the Evoque, recruiting 1000 extra engineers and spending £370 million on the new Range Rover. BMW is spending £250 million expanding MINI production in the UK while Nissan has said it will make its new Invitation hatchback on Tyneside, creating 2000 new jobs with an investment of £125 million.
It’s not all good news – as I write news has broken that Vauxhall is shutting Ellesmere Port for a week rather than build cars it can’t sell. But the fact is Ellesmere Port was considered for total closure by GM earlier this year, then subsequently reprieved.
This shows how wrong were those who predicted the loss of car manufacturing in the UK to cheap-as-chips facilities in Eastern Europe and developing countries around the world. The fact is that corporations from countries and cultures as diverse as Japan, India and Germany recognise the UK still has much to offer and are prepared to back their convictions with currency. We may no longer own the companies that make cars in the UK, but we can still make them as well as or, in most cases, better than anywhere else on earth.