Letter: Made, but no longer owned, in Britain

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The Independent Online
Sir: Keith Miller (Letters, 12 October) should assess the British car industry more closely before he berates the sales directors of Jaguar and Rover. Like many other sales directors in Britain, they no longer represent wholly owned British companies.

Jaguar was snapped up for an almighty premium during the acquisition-crazed Eighties by the Ford Motor Company, which, contrary to common perception, is very American. British Aerospace acquired Rover, with some financial help from Lord Young, during the same crazed years. However, Honda has more than a minor interest in Rover, cementing a joint- venture agreement by becoming a substantial shareholder.

This relationship has actually done Rover's management some good. During a study, conducted while I was a student at the City University, it was found that Honda's managers taught the Japanese quality ethos to Rover's managers, giving them a more competitive edge in the UK. However, if Mr Miller spots a Rover in Japan, it will have been built locally by Honda, not Rover.

The story is similar for the rest of so-called British car manufacturing. Therefore, it's not surprising that Mr J. C. Hardy (Letters, 12 October) could not find a British car in a Welsh car park. Aston Martin was also acquired by the Ford Motor Company, Vauxhall has been part of General Motors for some time and Bristol is in receivership.

Although some specialist car manufacturers remain British - among them Rolls-Royce (part of Vickers), Lotus, Morgan, TVR and Panther - their paltry output is little more than a trickle into the sea of global car manufacturing.

I'm sure the sales directors at Ford and Honda are doing their best to improve the market shares of Jaguar and Rover, but Mr Miller should hope that they do not try too hard, otherwise our trickle will soon be little more than a drip.

Yours faithfully,

OLIVER BOND

London, EC1

12 October

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