Those were the days when Ford, Vauxhall and British Leyland were major car producers.
Competition, better quality and the user chooser gradually eroded the ‘Buy British’ fleet policies.
But, perhaps, such policies might make a comeback. Last week, the SMMT announced that car production in the UK had hit a six-year high, putting the UK on course to become the third largest car maker in Europe by 2017.
That is some result.
Gone are the days when British built was a byword for shoddy and unreliable. Today, the UK boasts some of the most efficient and productive plants in the world – and in Nissan’s Tyne & Wear manufacturing plant, one of the very best in the world, producing more vehicles in 2013 than the whole of Italy combined.
Much of the success of the UK car making boom can be laid at the door of exports: there has been huge demand for prestige cars from the US, China and Russia, boosting production of Jaguar and Land Rover, along with Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
But it wasn’t all just prestige taking the glory. Here are the top five UK car makers for your fleet policy – making ‘Buy British’ not such an unreasonable fleet policy anymore.
Time for a comeback? Let’s see.
Key car built at the Tyne & Wear Washing plant is the Qashqai, along with the Juke and electric Leaf. The Qashqai was the sixth best-selling car in 2013. And there’s a new model for 2014. Look out for the 1.5dCi diesel models – with 99g/km they’re bound to be popular with company car drivers.
The Toyota Auris is leading the charge from the Burnaston factory in Derbyshire, backed up by the larger Avensis model. Fleets should check out the low emission 91g/km Auris hybrid model with a BIK banding of just 11% in 2014-15.
Built at BMW’s Oxford plant, the MINI has been a phenomenal success under BMW since the Mk1 model first appeared in 2001. For 2014, BMW says MINI will be more business focused. And the good news is that there’s a brand new MINI which is bigger, more comfortable and better suited to fleets. First models appear this March.
Honda retains an enviable reputation for cast-iron reliability – and that includes all the cars made at its Swindon factory. Last year Honda introduced the two-wheel drive CR-V with its brilliant 1.6 diesel engine, made at Swindon. But the company car star is the Honda Civic with more than 78mpg and CO2 emissions of just 94g/km.
The Astra continues to be made at the company’s Ellesmere Port plant – and when the new model Astra appears in 2015, it will continue to be built in Britain thanks to the efficiency of the UK plant. The Astra remains an attractive fleet proposition, offering dependable and low cost business motoring. Look out in particular for the fleet friendly Tech Line ecoFLEX model with company car tax, starting in 2014/15, from under £44 a month.