British car makers accelerate world sales despite strong pound

Britain's car makers shrugged off the effects of the strong pound last year to record big increases in world-wide sales.

Rover said yesterday that total sales in 1996 broke through the half- million mark for the first time in eight years. Rolls-Royce, meanwhile, announced a 12 per cent jump in sales thanks to the success of the Bentley range including its pounds 222,526 two-door convertible, the Azure.

Jaguar, which is owned by Ford, reported a marginal drop in sales to about 39,000 but said this was due to a six-month gap during the year when it had no sports car version on sale.

According to preliminary figures from Rover, world-wide sales last year reached 506,000 - the highest since 1988. The company, now a subsidiary of BMW, said that for the first time in its history exports had outstripped home demand, with 53 per cent of sales going overseas.

The growth in Rover's worldwide sales comes as a consolation to the company as it faces up to continuing losses and a declining UK presence. Rover's share of the domestic market fell to just under 11 per cent in 1996 with 221,658 cars sold against 240,007 the previous year.

Tom Purves, sales and marketing director, said that the world-wide increase had been driven by the success of the new Rover 200 and 400 series, particularly in European markets, and strong demand for the Range Rover and Discovery, both of which set sales records.

Sales in the US were 15 per cent ahead of 1995 while demand was up 50 per cent in Germany and 10 per cent across the Continent as a whole.

Vickers, Rolls-Royce's parent company, said sales rose from 1,556 in 1995 to 1,744 last year. The biggest increase was in the UK where sales rose 29 per cent to 638. Demand was 10 per cent higher from the Americas and 7 per cent up in Japan.

A spokesman said that growth had been due to the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn and the revamped turbo-charged Bentley Brooklands, which sells for pounds 118,557.

Jaguar said it was held back by the six-month wait between the end of XJS production in April and the launch of the new sports model, the XK8, in October.

Union leaders at Ford meanwhile voiced their "deep concerns" at warnings from senior executives that it was preparing to take imminent action to stem huge losses in its European operations. Tony Woodley, the Transport and General Workers' Union chief negotiator for the car industry, said it was clear the company was considering drastic cuts which could have "disastrous consequences".

Jac Nasser, chairman of Ford of Europe, warned at the Detroit motor show that it was preparing to take "tough steps" because its cost base was not competitive.

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel