Information just recently released shows a double-digit fall in car production in this country. This follows on from other news when the 2021 closure of Honda’s Swindon factory was announced with the loss of up to 3500 jobs. It is clear that our businesses and industries are fed up to the back teeth with the lack of a coherent Brexit picture, but is that the whole story?
Honda, for example, have insisted that Brexit is not the problem. We can only take their word for that; who truly knows? The news though that Ford is ceasing car production in Russia kind of bears this out. That has absolutely nothing to do with UK issues.
What has caused this closure, Honda say, is the seismic shifts in the car industry globally brought on by the sharing of platforms and technologies and the rise of the electric car, meaning global rationalisations have to be made. Broadly speaking, with just a few exceptions, the niche markets for cars have disappeared as we work ultimately towards the ‘World’ car.
Not The End Of The World
The world-wide car industry is resilient. It understands that economies change just as much as automotive science. It is intriguing therefore that BMW has expressed an interest in buying the Honda Swindon factory. Sources in the industry say that BMW could be interested in developing the Wiltshire plant, which currently has annual manufacturing capacity of up to 150,000 units. Apparently, with additional investment, this output could be doubled on a second line which is currently mothballed.
Clearly, restructuring in the UK car sector could play out in unforeseen ways as trading conditions change due to the dreaded Brexit and other pressures. Great Britain is the German brand’s second European biggest market and BMW are actively looking at its cross-Europe production structure. In short, building more cars in the UK is one way to hedge against the possibility of higher costs, tariff barriers and currency fluctuations in both directions across the Channel.
BMW already has a well-developed UK manufacturing network through its Mini plant at Oxford and associated engine and body panel works. Adding a high-demand model such as the compact X1 SUV or 1 Series, which both share the same platform with Mini could make good business sense. The Honda plant is also well situated from a logistics point of view so it all suggests that manufacturers are thinking things through.
The Changing World
BMW subcontracts some Mini and X1 production to a plant in the Netherlands, but this facility has now hit capacity limits due to the success of the X1 in the European market. An opportunity to add manufacturing capacity at low-cost in the UK could be viewed as making real sense.
That’s the point: It’s a changing world and industry has to change with it. With an increasing number of politically-led rules and regulations concerning cars, their emissions, their safety and, just the other day, the possible introduction of speed limiters, it makes absolute sense that car makers will rationalise their businesses.
We can’t also forget the human cost. While all the wrangling goes on the effect it has on car workers is immense and very worrying. It is understandable then that the possibility of BMW taking over in Swindon is of huge interest. If it’s not them then maybe someone else will pick up the baton.
In the meantime, rest assured that all the cars we have for sale
here at eCars247 meet all current legal regulations.