Letter: Ford should make more of its assets in the UK

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ian McAllister significantly exaggerates the accomplishments of the company he chairs, Ford Motor Company of the UK (Letters, 20 March). Contrary to his claim, Ford has not 'dramatically improved' its productivity in the UK. It made 11 cars per employee in 1991, up from nine in 1986 and no change on the 1989 performance, according to our latest Financial Yearbook.

Far from 'closing the gap with the best Continental plants' in productivity, in the UK Ford is far adrift of its Spanish cousin, Ford Espana, where each employee made 33.5 cars in 1991 - triple British productivity. Ford's UK productivity is not even equal to the European aveage of 13.9 cars per man-year. Thus, we frankly see no prospect for Ford to match Japanese perfomance during this decade, as Mr McAllister forecasts.

Moreover, we are intrigued by the fact that Mr McAllister appears to lobby for an increased Japanese commitment to 'high-wage, high value-added research, design and engineering work' in Europe. Today, Ford's ability to carry out major vehicle engineering and development in the UK should make it far more able than its Japanese rivals to design cars that are ideally suited to the needs of British and Continental drivers - potentially an important marketplace advantage. Do the sales trends indicate that Ford is adequately exploiting this advantage? We think not.

Instead of seeking to advise the Japanese how to operate in Britain, Ford should be consolidating its head-start in the UK. It should be making the most of its natural advantages to understand the desires of its British and European customers, and design quality cars that they will enjoy buying and driving, to improve its productivity substantially and to establish better relations with its UK supply base. For as Ford goes, so will much of the British motor industry.

Yours sincerely,

K. E. LUDVIGSEN

Managing Director

Euromotor Reports

London, N1

23 March

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