With the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee approaching, it’s hard to miss the Union flag effect sweeping the nation. John Lewis sums up the Zeitgeist with a ‘Made in UK’ logo. Is it time to do the same with cars?
I’m asking the question this week as both Jaguar and Nissan have announced that their major new models will be built here in Britain.
Jaguar is reviving the spirit of its iconic E-type of the 1960s with a new F-type two-seat sports car, due in 2013. Hooray!
Meanwhile, Nissan has announced that two all-new models will be made in its Sunderland plant. The ‘Invitation’ (the replacement for the Note) arrives next year, while a new hatchback rival for the VW Golf follows in 2014.
The best of British
The thoroughly British Jag and Nissan are suddenly making me feel all Austin Powers: I have a strange urge to go and cover my car with a Union Flag.
You might remember the old ‘I’m backing Britain’ campaign of the 1960s and its encouragement to ‘buy British’. History could be repeating itself if the latest figures are to be believed as registrations of UK-built cars rose by 12.3% in March 2012. One in seven cars sold in the UK is now made in Britain.
But it could be so many more. You see, if you want to buy patriotic, it really isn’t that easy. Ford doesn’t make a single car in the UK anymore. Nor does Peugeot. And despite Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant being one of the most efficient in Europe, its future is looking shaky, putting the future of UK-built Astras in jeopardy.
Give British bangers a break?
I’ve heard calls for tax breaks for anyone buying a new car made in the UK. No doubt it would boost sales for the UK’s increasingly important car manufacturing sector, but there would surely be accusations of protectionism.
My view is that cars have to survive on their merits, not on where they happen to be built. As long as we build great cars in Britain, people will buy them both here and abroad. After all, over 80% of all cars made in the UK are exported.
Do you think the government should support UK industry by offering tax breaks to consumers who buy UK-made cars? Or would that be fundamentally unfair and risk sparking a trade war?