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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Motor city loses last major plant
By Arryn Moy
BBC News

Chrysler Works sign
The Ryton plant seen several names changes over the years
Next year's closure of Peugeot's Ryton factory will leave Coventry with only one car plant.

The former "motor city" now hosts only cab maker London Taxi International.

Other car names linked with the city during the 20th Century include Alvis, Armstong Siddeley, Jaguar, Daimler, Hillman, Rover and Standard.

"This is a massive blow and signals the end of volume car manufacturing in Coventry," said Alan Durham of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

"The number of jobs lost at the company is obviously a severe hit on the local economy.

It seems that Peugeot in particular has really gone off the boil a bit in the last few years in terms of its models
Prof Garel Rees, Cardiff Business School

London Taxi International (LTI) employs 450 people at its production plant in Holyhead Road and its dealerships.

But it will soon be the last remnant of an industry which used to dominate the city.

Rover's former Canley site is now made up of warehousing, industrial units and out-of-town stores.

Jaguar is preparing to quit Browns Lane, moving some staff to its Whitley site in the city and others to Castle Bromwich in Birmingham.

Inside Ryton Works
Peugeot's 309, 405, 306 and 206s have been made at Ryton

The Ryton plant was originally built by Rootes, which later worked with Chrysler before Peugeot took over.

The plant turned out the Hillman Hunter, Sunbeam Alpine and Hillman Avenger cars.

The Peugeot 309 and 405, and then the 309's successor, the 306, were all made at the plant.

Professor Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, said the demise of Peugeot in Coventry was not down to the cars themselves.

"Such is the competition in the world motor industry, it is not that you have to be good, you also have to be lucky as well," he said.

1940: Rootes Group builds the Ryton assembly plant, initially producing Second World War aircraft engines
1967: Rootes teams up with US firm Chrysler
1977: Chrysler Europe collapses
1978: It is taken over by Peugeot for a nominal $1 under the Talbot name
1980s: Peugeot starts producing the 309 at Ryton and drops the Talbot name
1998: Peugeot starts making the 206 at Ryton
2001: Ryton workers celebrate building their half-millionth Peugeot 206 in less than three years
2002: Production of the 206 SW starts
2005: Peugeot says it has produced more than 4.5 million 206s worldwide

"And it seems that Peugeot in particular has really gone off the boil a bit in the last few years in terms of its models.

"Three or four years ago, it seemed, people were almost queuing to buy the product.

"It is not quite like that now. It is quite popular, but you don't have the depth of demand that you had."

He said Ryton was "very much an assembly operation" and there may be a smaller impact on other UK firms than first feared.

He said: "They almost just received kits from the continent and then put them together in the UK. There's very little actual British content other than the labour and a few components," he said.

The Ryton plant is on the edge of the city in Warwickshire, while the firm's UK headquarters are a few miles away in the Stoke area of Coventry.

See archive video of the Ryton factory


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