/ Money, Motoring

Should we get a tax discount for buying British motors?

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?


‘Made in Britain’ can be at best confusing and at worst deceptive if some parts are manufactured overseas. Perhaps it would be best to claim ‘Assembled in Britain’.

Some of the run-of-the-mill cars assembled in Britain
have their parts emanating from various parts
of the world/EU more than in the case of the SuperJumbo the A380
that has five countries involved including the USA (as to certain
specialist avionics fitted).

Phil says:
13 April 2012

Preferential treatment for British built/assembled cars would almost certainly break EU competition rules.

Indeed; this is obvious. In the same way that France can’t tax British cars more than French cars, Britain can’t tax French cars more than British cars. This would break one of the fundamental and most well known principles of the EU. Such national protectionism is not allowed in a multinational free market. I’m amazed that Which has even devoted a page to such a legally flawed idea.

Doug Rodwell says:
14 April 2012

Not sure about tax breaks but I definitely think that there needs to be a major campaign by all companies and the government to promote products that are made and assembled in the UK and there should be clear distinction between the two. It is an absolute disgrace that government departments and all organisations which buy with taxpayers money are not instructed to purchase UK products and told quite clearly to invest in our countries.

especially if you peel back the skin, you’ll find a different manufacturer making the engine that is causing you so many problems.

In other words, a BMW Mini has either an american (chrysler) or a french (peugeot) engine depending on the model year. Just not British is it?

Of course there should be tax breaks for ‘buying British’.Iin the present economic climate we should be doing all we can to save British jobs and support the British economy. So what if it breaks the EU rules? The EU costs British tax payers a fortune and does very little to support British Industry.

What an insular-minded comment. If the UK blatently flouts EU free market rules as you suggest, then the UK will have to pay hefty fines and other EU countries may do the same to us. What would you say if France tried to tax British goods at a higher rate than French goods? The days of protectionism and trade barriers in Europe are fortunately long gone, and any attempts to bring these back would be economically distrastrous.

MartynA says:
19 April 2012

People will buy the best value, best designed, best built and most reliable cars – wherever they are made. NO financial incentive will make up for that, at best it will close the gap a little. But then, the retaliation from other countries would reduce exports so we would be no better off.

The only realway is to build the best ‘mass market’ cars – we used to decades ago, until recently Germany and Japan did, watch out – Korea and China are coming.

We use to have a Thriving Car Industry Coventry was the hub of the Nation now its a Ghost Town the way things are going only the very rich will be able to Run a Car no one believes the official Unemployment figures which are far higher than they say 2ndly Road Tax is the worst Tax of all why should someone pay £180 per year and does 4K per year someone else does 40K per year pays the same plus all these Foreign Lorries severely damaging our roads not pay a bean.The French&Italian governments support there country’s industry our government whoever is in power does not.Land rover now linked to China Land rover has 3 to4 years max before production moved to china.