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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.


[ image: Nissan has been named the most efficient plant in Europe]
Nissan has been named the most efficient plant in Europe
The fact is that many cars by foreign companies are manufactured in the UK. Companies have been attracted by a plentiful workforce and financial incentives.

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.


[ image: Many Ford cars are made in Dagenham - but not the Focus or Ka]
Many Ford cars are made in Dagenham - but not the Focus or Ka
But they kept their factories here. Jaguars, now owned by American firm Ford, are built in Coventry.

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.


[ image: Rover is owned by BMW but cars are made here]
Rover is owned by BMW but cars are made here
Only 28.3% of UK-registered cars are British made and some fear the figure will drop following Ford's decision to make the new Focus in Germany. The best-selling Escort was built in the UK.

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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27 Aug 99 | The Economy
Union starts up 'Buy British' drive

27 Aug 99 | Talking Point
Are you a patriotic consumer?





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