By on January 21, 2014

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For the first time since 1966, the United Kingdom’s automobile industry will likely build more cars than those built in France. Increasing domestic and export sales are expected to make 2013 a record year for car manufacturing, putting Great Britain in third place among car producing countries in Europe, behind Germany and Spain. UK car production is estimated to reach 1.55 million units, up from 1.47 million the previous year and 1.35 million in 2011. In contrast, French car production for 2013 is expected to fall to ~1.54 million units, down from 1.66 million in 2012 and 1.88 million the year before that. Some analysts and industry executives predict UK car production to hit 2 million by 2017 as investments to plants bear fruit.

The growth in manufacturing was attributed to the strength of traditional British brands (albeit foreign owned) such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini, Vauxhall, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, as well as strong production at Japanese automakers like Nissan, Toyota and Honda that have set up assembly operations in the UK.

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Some have attributed both the survival of those British brands and the growth of transplant assembly facilities to late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose government both courted Japanese automakers and provided £2.9 billion of taxpayer money in subsidies to British Leyland from 1979 to 1988, allowing iconic British brands to survive long enough to be bought up by the Germans.

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At the same time the drop in the production of French cars is attributed with overcapacity, a stagnant European car market in general and in particular the soft domestic French market on which French manufacturers are highly dependant, a lack of business confidence in the current government and currency issues regarding the Euro.

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16 Comments on “Britain Expected to Build More Cars Than France for the First Time Since 1966...”


  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well, by 2130ish the UK economy will probably be larger than the German economy as well.

    Germany’s population is reducing and the UK is expanding.

    Maybe some in the US shouldn’t be so scared of foreign vehicle manufacturers or in the case of Chrysler being foreign owned.

    The UK shows foreign vehicle manufacturers and owner do provide money and opportunities for a nation.

    That’s what’s great about a globalised world. It unites people, as people work for a common goal, rather than fighting over goals.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    With regards to the automotive manufacturing in Britain overtaking France, I can see why. In Britain it is possible to lay-off workers without the repercussions you see in France whenever a multinational factory closes.

    Just ask Goodyear how ugly things get upon closing a tire plant in France.

    In Britain the state is no longer a stake holder in the automotive sector.

    In France, the state owns part of Renault and will soon be buying a 14% share of Peugeot, along with another 14% share by Dongfeng. Dongfeng is itself a state owned automaker.

  • avatar
    younes

    That doesnt mean british workers have a better condition than the french ones.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Third behind SPAIN? Times have certainly changed from the glory days circa 1930 to 1960 when they were the second in the WORLD.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    London is still the number one financial location in the world, ahead of New York, Frankfurt or Tokyo.

    But this is an automotive blog. So I still believe that TR4′s comment has a valid point.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Lots of cool fun facts here. Mine:

    In 1903 the world produced 60000 cars. Almost half of them in France!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    You’ve had too many pints with Clarkson. Foreign companies own former British makes and still have British plants. The BRITISH automotive industry is dead; the foreigners own it. Yes, Lotus staggers on and Morgans are very cool bespoke cars. Stop, just stop.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Who does own Lotus these days? Last I knew it was the Malaysians, Proton. Is that still the case?

      Morgan is obviously British owned, what about McLaren? That is it, isn’t it for actual road car makers? Not that ownership matters one whit in an industry as low-margin and capital intensive as the auto industry. Hardly any of the money spent ever makes it home!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      You mean the Automotive production based in the UK? transplant production as in the Southern States of the US.

  • avatar
    NVHGuru

    Maybe we can win the World Cup too this year, it’s been just as long!


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