Friday, August 27, 1999 Published at 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Business: The Company File
What's in a car name?
Some people may be surprised to see their car was made in the UK
Trying to be patriotic can be a confusing business for car buyers.
Nissans, Hondas, Toyotas - all Japanese, right? Wrong.
Fords, Rovers, Jaguars - all British, right? Wrong again.
When we're urged to support British car manufacturing, it's no wonder we need things spelled out to us.
So unions will applaud you for supporting UK jobs if you buy a Nissan Micra or a Honda Civic. But if you opt for a new Ford Focus, prepare for the disapproval of those of a patriotic stance.
There are few cars manufactured in the UK by companies still solely British-owned. But they include TVR sports cars, and, at the other extreme, Robin Reliants. Some small, specialist firms, such as Morgan or Jensen, have also avoided being taken over by overseas giants.
But big names, such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Vauxhall and Ford, which we all think of as traditional British manufacturers, are now subsidiaries of companies based overseas.
Brands expert Alex Batchelor says that despite the campaign of the late 1960s persuading everyone to Buy British, the quality of manufacturing dropped, and many makers were bought up by predominantly American or German rivals.
And this group has since been joined by a host of Far Eastern car giants.
Nissan Micras, Primeras, and, from January, Almeras, are made in Sunderland. Honda Civic five-doors, Aerodecks and Accords come from Swindon, while the Toyota Avensis and Corolla five-door are made in Burnaston, Derby.
Rob Hallaway, of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, says companies have been increasingly drawn to the UK because the workforce is so highly-skilled.
"The fact that productivity is increasing indicates manufacturers are very happy to be here," he said.
Although dozens of makes are UK-built, plenty of people still buy cars manufactured abroad.
VW Golfs - which no self-respecting lad-about-town would be seen without - are built in Germany, together with Audis.
And Citroen Saxos and Renaults, for example, are imported from France, while the Ford Ka comes from Spain.
But some would say the British have no right to complain. After all, bus company Optare, based in Leeds, has a big manufacturing base in Sri Lanka.
UK drivers are not the only ones confused by the ownership of car companies: many Peugeots driven by patriotic Frenchmen have come directly from the company's factory in Coventry.
No doubt some drivers couldn't care less where their car is made.
Even Rob Hallaway of the SMMT, admits: "It's not where the car was built that counts for many people, it's whether the car suits you and whether you can see yourself in it that decides the matter."
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