Britain enters pole position in race for automotive investment
British car manufacturers are currently enjoying increases in sales driven by Chinese and American demand, which in turn has led to increased investment in UK-based factories. Jaguar Land Rover is putting around £1.5 billion into its car manufacturing plant in Solihull in the Midlands, which will create 1,700 new jobs in the area.
In north-east England, Nissan is following suit, after securing planning permission for a £250 million extension to its already massive plant in Sunderland – again boosting jobs in an area lacking major employers.
Speaking about Jaguar Land Rover’s plans in Frankfurt last week, Chief Executive Ralf Speth said that it was “further evidence of our commitment to advancing the capability of the U.K. automotive sector and its supply chain.” The company already employs 11,000 people to make cars in Britain, and another 24,000 people work in its supply chain.
In addition to these encouraging signs from major car brands, further evidence of an upturn in British automotive industry has come from the government, which announced in March that it was pumping £500 million into the sector.
According to Joe Rundle, an analyst at ETX Capital, this action has had a huge impact. “The UK. government’s initiatives to kick-start manufacturing activity is turning the country’s auto-making industry into one of premium niche manufacturing.”
Other carmakers investing in British-made products include Toyota and BMW. Rolls-Royce too is riding high, with record-breaking sales figures in 2012 for the third year running and plans to expand its factory in Sussex.
However, the industry mustn’t become too complacent. Towards the end of 2013, Ford was forced to close down its Transit van production site in Southampton, resulting in a loss of 1,500 jobs. Honda too has reduced its workforce by 800 at its Swindon factory due to the economic climate.
While the shoots of recovery are doubtless starting to show, and a renewed demand from China and the recovering US economy for British cars will help the industry, it still has a way to go before it can fully regain its former buoyancy.