31 March 2023

UK Plus / Minus Percentage : Import / Export

At the beginning of the 1970's, the UK was exporting 36% more passenger cars than it was importing. To put that into time context, the UK joined the EU in 1973. By 1977 it was neutral and thereafter it has been in the minus region.

In 1970, BLMC was in a net positive of 354,000, Chrysler (Hillman) 147,000, Ford 126,000, Vauxhall 61,000 and Jaguar 16,000. Land Rover's passenger car sales were negligible at this time. Taking off imports the net positive was 456,000.

By 1978, BL was almost alone, with 212,000 more export cars, Chrysler 83,000, JLR 23,000. Vauxhall was now minus 47,000 and Ford -68,000. In total the UK was now a net importer to the tune of 369,000 cars. That's a turn around from 1971 of minus 825,000 cars! Just eight years. Staggering.

Ford and GM were moving production to the EU and BL was in trouble so a double whammy. Just when it looked all over, the cavalry arrived in the form of Japanese car makers. Nissan in 1988, Honda 1992 and Toyota 1993. It wasn't enough to return to positive territory but it stopped the rot. 

Then Peugeot (who had taken over from Chrysler) pulled out of the UK around the same time BMW left MG Rover in a mess which folded shortly after. Toyota allowed its operation in the UK to shrink, Carlos Ghosn's departure from his post coincided with Nissan's UK diminished role within the R-N alliance and Honda left European manufacturing.

In 2022 the UK imported more than double the cars than it exported. Then a couple of the remaining players are seeking more government inducements to keep on investing in UK car manufacturing. One rather cynically as it recently posted huge global profits. I guess when some sense vulnerability...

The UK public has long since stopped caring for its car industry. Some say foreign ownership means zero benefit for the economy. Either a feeble attempt to justify their lack of support or maybe they need to give their heads a wobble. 

I'm picking it may retreat back under the 50% mark in 2023 but not by much if it does. Will the locals care if the UK car manufacturing lives or dies? I'll let Joni Mitchell have the last say: "Don't it always seem to go. That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

Land Rover Discovery Top Nations : 2022

The current Discovery is a top draw product that doesn't sell in the numbers it deserves to. The UK is the primary market with 30% of sales. In some European countries like Ireland, it is very popular as a commercial vehicle with just two seats (see picture below). 

What may put off some buyers is it is so good off road that there has to be some compromise when on tarmac. It has a breadth of talent that go beyond what most users need, in some respects an overkill. The sort of thing I don't need but somewhere in my subconscious I'd like to own. Not to satisfy a materialistic craving but a fascination with what it can do. 

The data below is from various sources, not from JLR and sources can vary. One or two top nations may be missing. 

Range Rover Velar Top Nations : 2022

Rolls Royce Global Sales : 2022


Rolls Royce passed 4,000 deliveries for the first time in 2014 and I thought that was probably as high as it would get. For a few years, it seemed so then a sudden upturn and 5,000 was reached in 2019. That was because of the Cullinan SUV and I hadn't allowed for such a model when making my prediction. 

The Cullinan has passed the 50% mark for the company and this sort of vehicle is an essential part of any car maker's range...except Mclaren and I'm thinking they will come around eventually. It would be ultimately suicidal not to. 

Looking at the picture above, they certainly have quite a presence. The problem is it's too long for my garage. Shame about that. But as the old saying goes, if it doesn't fit in the garage then you can't afford one.

Data source: BMW Group.