In 2013 the then popular Top Gear programme broadcast an item aimed at debunking what they thought was a prevailing impression that the UK didn't have a car manufacturing industry. It is frequently repeated on Dave TV. This was largely, they said, because there was no longer a British-owned, British based manufacturer of everyday passenger cars. Sure, there were specialist oddities like Morgans but all of what was once Rover, Jaguar, Austin Morris, Leyland etc was now either foreign owned or defunct.
But, they said, and with some considerable justification: there is still a very healthy British automotive industry if you look more closely. What followed then was a typically Top Gear lavishly presented brilliantly filmed tribute to British car (and truck and bus) making culminating with a parade on The Mall of all that Britain has to offer in this regard. As of today you can still see it on You Tube (Link at bottom of page)
But how have things changed since then, especially given the impending Brexit?
The following table compares the statements made in 2013 with the situation today. I am not aware of any new developments or inward investments made since then that would not have been mentioned in the programme. If anybody knows of any, feel free to add them.
How much of the changes, for good and ill, are due to Brexit? I only ask
|Claims made in Top Gear Tribute 2013||Situation as of June 2019|
|“Today (2013) a new car rolls off a production line somewhere in Britain every 20 seconds”||Using data from this site I calculated the rate of car production in no of seconds per car rollout for that year and all subsequent years. See second Table below|
|Honda has a factory in Swindon where 2,700 people are employed to make the Civic, the Jazz and the CRV.||Feb 2019, Honda announced plant would close by 2021.|
|The Nissan plant in the north east last year (2012) made more cars than the entire Italian motor industry put together.||Feb/March 2019: Nissan cancels production of Infiniti in Sunderland and abandons plans to make X-trail SUV there.|
|"Last year (2012) one in three Fords sold globally had an engine made in Wales (Bridgend) or in Essex (Dagenham)"||June 2019: Ford announces Bridgend plant to close in 2020|
|Toyota makes cars in Derbyshire (which are then exported to Japan)||Production continuing as of June 2019, although management has consistently warned of damaging consequences of “no-deal” Brexit.|
|Rolls Royce plant in Sussex. Most components come from Germany, but assembly done here.||2019: Production ongoing|
|All Indy car racers, every Dakar winner since 2009, 35 of the 56 starters in this year’s Le Mans including the winner, the Marusha F1 car and the Pagani Huayra all have gearboxes made by Xtrac in Berkshire||Opened factory extension in November 2018|
|JCBs used in nearly every country in world.||Announced new cab manufacturing site on existing British site in 2018|
|There are 11 F1 teams, 8 based in Britain and seven can be seen from one hill in Oxfordshire. (Williiams, Lotus, Caterham, Marusha, Force India, Red Bull and Mercedes)||2013: Ten Formula One Teams. Six based in UK, two in Italy, one each in Switzerland and US.|
|75% of all R&D in Global motor sport is British (Clutch, hybrid systems, ECUs)||Inexact statement, nothing to compare|
|For five of the last 7 years Aston Martin is voted coolest brand in the world.||Whatever|
|Morgans||2019: Still being made in UK|
|Triumph Bikes||2019: Still being made in UK|
|Year||No of seconds a new car rolls off production line in UK|
Maybe those more technically adroit than myself can improve the formatting of the above tables to make them more legible. It's interesting that the rate of car manufacture increased until 2016, the year of the Brexit vote, and has slowed since.
As of June 2019, you can still see the Top Gear tribute show on YouTube. Here it is.