/ Motoring

Which Honda, Nissan and Toyota models are made in Britain?

British flag painted on Mini Cooper

In the past, when you thought of iconic British carmakers you thought of Bentley, Jaguar and Rolls Royce. Times have changed; now you should be thinking Honda, Nissan and Toyota.

The truth of the matter is, most of the car manufacturers we’ve historically associated as being British flagships are now owned by foreign companies.

Bentley is a sub-brand of the German VW Group, Jaguar and Land Rover is owned by Indian firm Tata Motors and Rolls Royce cars are overseen by BMW.

But while Jaguars and Land Rovers are still assembled in the UK, there are very few car marques of British origins that are built in this country anymore.

British-built cars might surprise you

That doesn’t mean you can’t buy a British-built car, though. In fact, there are numerous volume-selling models that are put together on British soil, but they’re not names you’d necessarily expect to hear. You can find out which cars rated in our top 10.

A large proportion of the cars built in the UK are in fact Japanese branded.

Honda’s widely sold Jazz supermini, Civic hatchback and CR-V SUV are all built in the Swindon plant in Wiltshere.

Nissan’s Juke and Qashqai compact-SUV pairing, as well as the new Note supermini, are constructed in Sunderland.

Assembled in Tyneside rather than Tokyo

And Toyota’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire churns out Auris and Avensis models.

All of these cars are significant sellers in the UK, but not all owners are aware they’re driving models that have been pieced together near Tyneside rather than Tokyo.

Mini, a brand synonymous with being British, is now owned by BMW, but just two cars in the range, the Countryman and Paceman, are built outside of the UK. With the majority of the model line-up manufactured in Oxford, arguably, the Mini is still a very British car.

But how important is a car being built in this country to you? And would knowing a car has been built in the UK have an impact on your purchasing decision?


It is good that cars are still being built in Britain. Just a pity that the companies are not British, which would be better for our economy.

I have always been saddened by the transfer of heavy manufacturing away from the UK. If the car is fully made here it will start with iron ore extracted here, smelted here using limestone and coal from the UK, bent into shape here, and – generally – have components made here. The windscreen glass will be made here and the tyres will be manufactured here. Even the plastic parts can be made here and make good use of recycled material. In my book, “assembly” is not the same as “manufacturing”: it is not enough to know that this model or that one are “made” here but whether the engines are made here or whether they are shipped in from some other part of the world. Even if the panels and windscreens are fabricated here, the materials might be suplied in sheet form or in pre-formed modules imported from somewhere else. I think we’ve lost it for ever now. We won’t get it back because the infrastructure has gone – the quarries, mines and blast furnaces have been shut down for good, the railways today could not possibly cope with the mineral traffic, and saddest of all, the skills have been lost. We must not overlook, however, the all-important by-product of importing manufactured goods – we export our carbon footprint in return!

“Just a pity that the companies are not British, which would be better for our economy.”

British car companies have a history of being foreign owned.
Vauxhall has been owned by General Motors (American) since 1925.
Ford – Ford of Britain is a subsidiary of Ford of Europe, which itself is a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company (American).
Rootes Group was bought by Chrysler (American) in 1967, and then bought by Peugeot (French) in 1978.
Jaguar was bought by Ford in 1989, and then sold to Tata (Indian) in 2008.
Rover sold to BMW (German) in 1994 by British Aerospace. When the Rover Group was split in 2000, Land Rover was sold onto Ford, and then to Tata in 2008.
Aston Martin – Ford took full control in 1991. Taken over by a American/Kuwati consortium in 2007.

This conversation is something I feel very strongly about and it not just about cars but about the whole of the British design and manufacturing industry. Historical fact the industrial revolution started in the UK.When I was a boy all my toys were designed and built in the UK.Most domestic goods were designed and built here owned by British Companies Post war we built and designed most of the first jet air liners designed and built by a surprising choice of British companies “ref a recent BBC TV documentary” Shipping well at one time we were easily the largest producer of the worlds shipping.Railways well we all know where they started but again I remember when all rolling stock was designed and built here. Sporting goods medical equipment the list is endless all designed and built here.No we did not close our doors to foreign manufacturers setting up here and they also contributed to full employment but by far the largest part of goods that were available were British made and designed. Does anyone remember the slogan of M&S 98% of our products are made in the UK that was as recent as the nineties ? Can they say that now-I think not. We most also remember that most of our products were exported all over the world. So why has it all gone wrong? Well I was around at the time and I am of the opinion we were all complicit.Trade unions which in many cases were far to militant( I was a member of one of them) Some management that were still mentally living in the Edwardian era of patronising attitudes.Politicians well when the push came to shove they hadn’t a clue how to sort it out whichever side of the political spectrum they embraced. So what happened either companies sadly closed or were sold to foreign owners who often make it work but not always and some keep the brand name and move manufacturing abroad to low pay low health and safety regulations (or none at all) Our own captains of industry started to do likewise while making many of the workforce redundant.Meanwhile there salaries massively increased and shareholders would also benefit.I repeat we were all complicit at the time.The good news is we still have world beating design and engineering talent in this country but we now need to learn how to run our own companies efficiently all over again.The original thesis of this debate was the manufacturing of foreign cars in this country no problem with that providing they do not catch a cold in the home country and move manufacturing elsewhere or indeed close it altogether this has happened. When one looks at the British jobs landscape now it proves my own long held belief that the the progress of time is not always synonymous with progress in society-certainly not in jobs and employment.I left school at fifteen in 1955 and was spoiled for the range of well payed apprentice ships on offer.Contrast that with today-this is progress?

Thanks for the reminders of times past; thankfully we still do much of the research and design work for products made abroad but the materials used seem to be inferior and before long, in the global competitive market place, product quality and reliability declines. I have fond memories of the English Electric company – made everything from jet fighters and railway engines through computers to domestic appliances. It’s no good lamenting the loss of our glorious past, however – we must redouble our efforts to invest in education and training for research and design, and cultivate markets for products that require higher skills and craftmanship than basic metal-bashing. That’s why luxury motor car production remains vital notwithstanding that some of the profits go abroad – the profits can stimulate demand in those countries for high-value UK goods and services.

The rise and rise of the bean counters who know the value of nothing is mainly to blame. It was not the fault of the Unions that we made lousy cars.

Webblet says:
24 August 2013

The unions were to blame – I purchased the biggest lemon of them all – a ROVER SD1 3500 – it was off the road more than on. – when I went to take the spare tyre from the boot I noticed that underneath the word “Sucker” had be written in felt pen. – it was spelt wrong so it could not have been management

Steve Jordan says:
25 August 2013

As a long term Land Rover owner I like the fact that it is designed and built in the UK but it is noticeable that innovation has improved under the ownership of Tata. They are investing more in new models and upgrades that in the past. Having owned many makes of cars over 40 years of motoring I care more about the design and quality of the car rather than where it is made. Being designed and built in the UK cannot compensate for poor design or manufacture.

The nostalgia expressed by a number of contributors to this discussion is really based on the lack of choice in the past. It is the advent of the shipping container that has made it economic to both import and export products that means we can now buy finished products and components (in the case of cars) from where it is best to make them. If you accept that people can choose the cars they want to buy then just because something is wholly made in the UK does not of itself add to quality or design.

Finally, the point concerning “ownership” is a little simplistic. If you think the owners are the shareholders then just because a company is listed on a national stock exchange doesn’t tell you much and where a company id headquartered is probably related to the tax regime.

There is no going back.

Don’t you mean assembled in Britain?
I think, but could be wrong because I’m out of the automotive sector now, that it’s still the case that much less than 50% of the components are actually made in Britain. Plus of course upon sale the profits go back to the foreign owners of these car companies.

Perhaps a good analogy is that in years gone by Rover use to sell kits of parts to Iran for local assembly, Land Rover use to do the same in South Africa, and there were other examples.
But did that make these vehicles Iranian or South African made?
I think not.

Still good of course that UK employment benefits even if it’s only assembly of essentially foreign cars, but not as good as a 100% British owned car company using components the majority of which manufactured in the UK, like it use to be in days gone by.

“Near Tyneside”.
No. On Wearside.

I’m currently watching a programme about British cars, “Cars that made Britain great” introduced by people who know nothing about them but are more than willing to give expert comment. (Like Clarkson on Rover) They can’t even get the names right – the Landrover Defender was introduced in 1991 but this programme has backdated it to 1948 and i’m waiting for the “Robin Reliant” to appear….
I too am sad that the motor industry went but I recall seeing a film shot inside British Leyland in the 70’s which clearly (unintentionally) showed antique equipment and pre war tooling . Conversely, when Nissan set up the plant on Wearside they invested 900m pounds over nine years to 1995 before making their first profit in that year of 10m pounds. No British company would do this because our banks don’t do long money anymore – they would have had the place into receivership long before nine years. Goodness only knows th he total investment in this plant to date but I bet it exceeds the total ever put into the entire British motor industry.
The workers in this plant turn out around two thousand cars a day and it’s said to be the most productive in Europe. Along with the Toyota plant in Burnaston and the Honda plant it is staffed by the same awful trade union members that brought the British motor industry down…….

Aarh, “Wiltshere” whare bea thart? Spilling chucker broak agen?

Back on topic, I wouldn’t want to compromise on reliability or fuel economy just to get a “made in UK” sticker.

Oh and, by the way, anyone who thinks trade unions are “awful” probably has no idea of how awfully managements will treat workers if there aren’t unions to keep them in check.

The “awful” was supposed to be ironic….

I drive a Rover 75 automatic,i’ve had 4 now.The K series engine was not good,head gaskit problems,but i’ve got the 2litre BMW diesel now and a great car to drive.It makes me feel good to know it was made by British workers not far from where i live at Longbridge.If i was thinking of buying a brand new car,it would have to be made by British workers,regardless who owns the Brand.

Mark says:
13 April 2018

We should support UK made,especially with Brexit around the corner?? Shame the new Land Rover won’t be made here!!

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