From UK Newspaper The Independent:
So is MG Rover’s collapse the final nail in the coffin of car manufacturing in Britain? Not at all. MG Rover’s problems may reflect difficulties with British-owned, British-run car companies that have lost their way, but the car industry based in Britain – as opposed to the British car industry – is actually doing rather well. It’s just not so easy to get your hands on the modern-day equivalent of a Morris Marina or a Hillman Avenger – particularly if you want the optional luxury of a vinyl roof.
…The truth is, despite MG Rover’s trauma, car manufacturing is alive and well in Britain. We may not be the biggest volume producer in Europe (Germany, France and Spain are in front of us on that measure) and our volumes may not be growing (they are in the aforementioned three), but Britain has three of the most productive vehicle plants in Europe, namely Nissan in Sunderland, Honda in Swindon and Toyota in Burnaston.
What all of this reveals is our collective confusion with the idea of Britishness, a confusion that has intensified in recent years in large part because of the creeping process of globalisation. What does it mean to buy British, for example? Popping to your local car supermarket, you may be surprised to find that the Peugeot 206 was, in 2003, the most heavily produced British-built car, followed by the Nissan Micra. The Mini was in third place – in reality, a BMW – followed by the Toyota Avensis. Other than the Mini, none of these feels particularly British. But perhaps that’s a problem with Britishness as a concept – all bowler hats, cucumber sandwiches and cream teas – rather than a problem with the cars.
In business, national borders no longer matter as much. Brands may evoke national identity – Minis and Aston Martins will be forever British – but companies are no longer tied so rigidly to national jurisdictions. When you buy a Mini, you might think that you are acquiring something that’s quintessentially British, but a lot of what you’re buying is German. Similarly, a Frenchman hoping to express his Gallic charm through his car may be surprised to discover that his Peugeot 206 was assembled in Coventry, hardly the most obvious place to enjoy a tasty bouillabaisse alongside a glass of Cotes de Provence.
[ UK car makers hog fast lane as Rover stalls ] The Independent