Industry in disarray

Adel Murad
Updated 12 August 2017
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Industry in disarray

One would have to go back a few decades, to the days of British Leyland and the Thatcher government, to find a period when the British car industry was in such disarray. Then, the single issue was privatization, and Leyland lost its fight and became extinct. Now the issue is more complicated.
There is no clarity on the future after Britain leaves the EU. As such, major companies cannot take serious investment decisions about future expansion and location of factories. Some, such as Nissan and Toyota, are seeking assurances from the British government, while other home-grown companies such as Aston Martin and McLaren face uncertainties.
Amid the confusion, companies are asking for clarifications, but the government itself does not know what terms will come out of negotiations with the EU. Any government assurance means compensation, if required, from the public purse.
Car production in the UK in June was down 14 percent on what it was a year prior. This year, total production is likely to decline by at least 100,000 cars. In addition to the lack of clarity on Europe, a drop in consumer confidence, the weakening of the pound against the euro and inflation have taken their toll on new car sales in the UK.
To top it all, the government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol cars in favor of electric and hybrid cars as of 2040. In car terms, that is a generation or two away from current production cycles. This prompted one car company to call for subsidies in order to compete. That was the same demand by British Leyland some three decades ago.
The reaction of one British car executive to a question about Brexit was telling. He refused to answer the question, and reacted as if Brexit was a dirty word. Well, in a few years’ time, not only will the industry have to deal with questions and implications of Brexit, but also with its brutal reality.
• Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist based in London.


Rolls-Royce unveils SUV with $325K price tag

Updated 11 May 2018
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Rolls-Royce unveils SUV with $325K price tag

  • Named after the diamond in Britain’s Crown Jewels, the Cullinan.
  • Deliveries are expected to begin in 2019.

WESTHAMPNETT, England: Motorists who have the money can now explore off-road luxuriously or just make a statement while dropping their children off at school.
The first SUV reveal of Rolls-Royce was on Thursday. Named after the diamond in Britain’s Crown Jewels, the Cullinan come with a $325,000 price tag as well as an estimated $5,000 gas-guzzler tax.
The Cullinan’s 6.75 liter, twin-turbo V12 engine has 563 horsepower. The SUV includes Rolls’ “magic air ride,” but drivers can press an “off road” button to hit the trails.
Deliveries are expected to begin in 2019.
Rising sales of SUVs and pickup trucks are driving auto sales in the US Autodata Corp. said in March that truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent, while car sales plunged 9.2 percent. Nearly two-thirds of all vehicles sold were trucks or SUVs.