Thursday, 19 March 2009

Does Britain Have A Major Role To Play In The Car Industry Of Tomorrow?

Only a handful of people alive today can remember when, at the turn of the century, the first all British designed and built car took to the roads.

Up until the First World War these early manufacturers including famous names like Ford, Humber, rover, Wolseley, Sunbeam came onto the market, but growth was rudely interrupted by the four years of the First World War and its resulting effects throughout England and Europe.

It took another ten years for the British Car Industry to recover and become Europe's leading car manufacturer but this was again to be interrupted by the 2nd World War which Europe and the World was to face.

Throughout its existence the Motor Industry has appeared to face a constant ten year cycle of peaks and troughs and so it was by 1951 that the Industry had grown to lead the world producing over 50% of all exported vehicles, however this was to last for a brief few years as European manufacturers recovered and the American giants of Ford and General Motors took major shares of the market.

so it was that during the next ten year cycle Britain slipped down the rankings and by 1960 had dropped to third place in terms of World Manufacturer, a position it was to hold for some five years.

Many of us can remember the many famous names which have disappeared forever or were swallowed up by the major manufacturing groups until this bubble was also to burst. Everyday names like Austin, Hillman, Morris, riley, singer, sunbeam, triumph, Wolseley were to become part of conglomerates which in turn were to suffer a similar fate and disappear.

Today the once proud and wholly owned British Industry is limited to an exclusive band of specialist manufacturers and designers producing or contributing to the design and production of highly specialised vehicles and the Country which was once
proud of its output for the masses now sees manufacture and production almost exclusively in the hands of American, Asian and European Groups - General Motors, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, the Mini, Nisssan, Toyota, Rolls Royce, Bentley manufactured in England but controlled overseas.

Each day the present financial climate brings new worries and fears for this once great industry and whilst we may design and contribute greatly to the Formula 1 industry, are we to see Britain's one hundred year history disappear and our children able only to remember just a few famous names form the past and recall one or two of the true great independent British survivors like Morgan or Bristol?

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