Nissan takes over as top British exporter

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The Independent Online
THE JAPANESE manufacturer Nissan has become Britain's top car exporter, leaving Rover, Ford and Vauxhall trailing in its wake, writes Michael Harrison.

Figures to be published next month will show that Nissan exported about 196,000 cars from its Sunderland plant this year - 30,000 more than its nearest rival, Rover Group.

Ford, Britain's leading motor industry exporter last year, has had a disastrous 1993. In the first 10 months of the year it exported just 9,300 cars compared with 96,000 in the whole of 1992.

This year about 80 per cent of the 246,000 Primeras and Micras produced at Sunderland will be exported, providing a massive boost to Britain's balance of trade.

Nissan's exports are expected to fall sharply next year, however, because of the recession in its key Continental markets.

The marked drop in exports by Ford helps to explain why it is giving workers at the Dagenham car plant in Essex an extra week's Christmas holiday and scrapping the night shift at the Halewood plant on Merseyside.

Vauxhall has also been badly affected by the slump in Continental demand. Export production from its Luton and Ellesmere Port plants is down nearly 60 per cent.

The company is expected to export fewer than 50,000 Opel Vectras and Astras and car-derived vans to the rest of Europe this year against 111,650 in 1992.

All the leading manufacturers have been hit by the recession in major export markets such as Germany. West European sales, excluding Britain, are down by 18 per cent year-on-year.

The Coventry car maker Peugeot-Talbot stopped exports of the 405 from its Ryton plant in September becase of the slump in the French market.

Some manufacturers have fared better. In the first 10 months of the year Rover and Land Rover exported 133,700 vehicles and industry sources estimate that Rover Group will end the year with about 165,000 exports.

Despite the dramatic slump in Ford's car exports the company will remain a sizeable exporter because of the number of vans and engines shipped overseas.

(Photograph omitted)