manufacture - the cars keep on coming


For the past thirty years the debate in the vehicle manufacturing companies of Europe and worldwide has been about merger, cooperation and takeover. All the big vehicle manufacturers have been linked — Ford, Jaguar, Rover, Fiat, Renault, Citroen, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mazda, Audi and so on.

It is almost impossible to identify who really makes what, with which supplier, be it kit construction or genuine manufacture. There are many labels, but few chassis.

What is emerging is that Britain will soon have the highest per capita concentration of car ownership anywhere in Europe. It is estimated that annual new car sales will top 3 million by 2005. Actual car production in Britain, including kit construction and direct manufacture, is running at the 2 million mark, although not everything produced is sold, as Rover has discovered. The gap between the estimated 3 million sales and 2 million produced is creating an imbalance of mega-proportions, which will result in imports being sucked into the country at an increasing rate.

Questions have to be posed: how soon before Britain is gridlocked? Three million new car sales a year means roads and car parking are being exhausted. The competition involved in producing cars is an absolute waste of raw materials, human skill and endeavour. It's time for a rational debate on how we preserve manufacturing industry, what it should be used for and who it serves.