Which models of car are made in the UK, and what was the best-selling British-made car of 2012? Make it British finds out…
UK car manufacturing is on the rise – growing by 7% in July 2013, and in the first 7 months of this year nearly 900,000 British-made cars have rolled off the production lines. Car making in Britain peaked in 1972, when nearly 2 million cars were made here, so we may still have some way to go to reach that high, but things are looking good for the UK automotive industry. The majority of the big players might now be owned by overseas companies, but they are currently sinking millions of pounds worth of investment into their UK manufacturing plants, and creating thousands of jobs in this country. Pretty soon British car making could be up to the level that is was at in the early 70s. So exactly which models are made here? And who are the companies that are putting the investment behind UK car manufacture? We’ve drawn up a list of the top British-made car brands to help you make sure that the next car you purchase is Made in Britain.
In alphabetical order:
Aston Martin make the Cygnet, DB9, Rapide, Vanquish and Vantage at Gaydon in Warwickshire. Originally founded by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, the company has been through various ownerships over the last one hundred years and is now joint owned by Kuwait and Italian investment firms.
Bentley motor company is now owned by Germany’s Volkswagen AG, but continues to make its cars at the Bentley plant in Crewe. The luxury car brand known for its saloons recently announced that it will launch an SUV in 2016. If initial press reports were to be believed, it was considering manufacturing them in Eastern Europe, but they have now confirmed that it will be made in Crewe. As a result, Bentley will be investing £800m into its UK factory, creating 1,000 new jobs.
Honda have been making cars at their Swindon factory since 1992. Between the original plant, and a second that opened in 2001, they have the capacity to make 350,00 cars in Britain a year (although the actual production figures for 2012 were around 165,000). Their Civic and Jazz models are all British-made, and they have a good website dedicated to their UK manufacturing.
Jaguar makes the XF, XK and XJ models in their factory at Castle Bromwich. Jaguar Land Rover has created 350 new jobs in order to manufacture the new F-Type and anticipates that it will export more than 75% of these. Its all-aluminium construction employs manufacturing techniques adapted from the aerospace industry. That’s British-innovation for you.
Land Rover, together with Jaguar, is owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd. The luxury car group has recently seen a big increase in demand for its vehicles, reporting a 14% jump in sales in 2013 so far, and nearly 9000 jobs have been created by their British car manufacturing over the last 2 years. The Defender, Defender CV, Discovery, Evoque, Freelander and Range Rover models are made in Halewood and Solihull. If you fancy seeing how their gas-guzzling SUV’s are made you can go on a factory tour.
Mini – Unfortunately the iconic British car is no longer British-owned, instead being part of BMW. However, the Mini, Clubman and Cabrio models are all made in Britain at their Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall factories. There were just over 200,000 minis made in Britain in 2012, making it the second most popular British-made car. My favourite model is the retro-looking Clubman in chocolate brown!
Morgan – The only entirely British-owned and British-made car company on the list. Only a few hundred cars are made every year at their factory in Malvern, Worcester, hence the waiting list for a Morgan can be up to 2 years. They’ve been making the Morgan 4/4, shown above, since 1936 and it holds the world record for being the model of car with the longest continuous production.
Nissan made over half a million cars in the UK in 2012, including the Juke, Qashqui and all-electric Leaf. Their factory in Washington, near Sunderland, made its first vehicle in 1986, and is Britain’s largest car plant, employing over 6000 staff. The Nissan Qashqui was the best-selling British-made car in the UK in 2012, with over 300,000 having been sold.
Rolls Royce Motor Cars has been a subsidiary of BMW since 1999 and makes the Phantom and Ghost models at Goodwood in West Sussex. 3500 cars were made in 2011, a 31% increase on the previous year. Not unsurprisingly, lots of them were exported to Asia and the Middle East, but they still sold a fair few in the UK too. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars employs more than 1,300 people at its headquarters in Goodwood and in 2012 it employed over 100 young people on industrial placements; it also runs successful apprenticeship and graduate programmes.
Toyota has a factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire and another in Deeside North Wales. The Japanese owned company employs more than 3,800 people across its two UK sites, and exports around 85% of the vehicles it manufactures.It even sends some back to Japan! Both the Auris and Avensis are made in Britain.
Vauxhall manufactured 90,000 Astras at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire last year. Owned by General Motors, the Vauxhall Astra has been seen in several different guises since 1979, and continues to be one of the best-selling models in the UK. Its latest version, which is due to go into production very soon, will see Vauxhall owner General Motors invest £125m in the Ellesmere Port factory and create around 700 new jobs.
If you would like to see any of the above-mentioned car factories in action most manufacturers allow you to go on a tour of their factory. Just check out their websites for details.
The Top 5 Best Selling British-made cars of 2012 (with number is brackets)
Nissan Qashqai (310,837) Mini Mini (207,530) Nissan Juke (154,759) Land Rover Evoque (112,331) Vauxhall Astra (90,187)
The Top 5 Best Selling British-made car brands of 2012 (number of cars manufactured in the UK in brackets)
Nissan 510,572 Land Rover 305,467 MINI 207,530 Honda 165,630 Toyota 109,429
*Figures used in this article are from The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders