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Fleet industry could consider more UK sourcing as Nissan questions factory future

Fleet management software boss says fleets are generally completely agnostic about where a car is produced when they draw up choice lists and perhaps we need to start having a conversation about the advantages of supporting local manufacturing. If we lose Sunderland, Burnaston and Oxford, then the UK’s claim to be a major manufacturer of cars is pretty much over.
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Peter Golding

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13 February 2023

FLEETS could consider increased support of UK-produced vehicles, FleetCheck is suggesting, as Nissan this week questioned the future of its Sunderland plant.

Peter Golding, managing director at the fleet management software specialist said businesses that bought vehicles could have an impact on local manufacturing.

“I don’t think it is particularly desirable that we see a revival of old school ‘Buy British’ campaigns. We live in a global economy and that is generally a good thing for fleet operators.

“However, UK motor manufacturing has already lost Honda in recent years, electric Mini production has gone to Germany, and it seems Jaguar Land Rover are doing more and more overseas. Replacement investment is not necessarily forthcoming, especially when it comes to the process of electrification, such as the ups and downs surrounding BritishVolt.

“The fact is that fleets are generally completely agnostic about where a car is produced when they draw up choice lists and perhaps we need to start having a conversation about the advantages of supporting local manufacturing. If we lose Sunderland, Burnaston and Oxford, then the UK’s claim to be a major manufacturer of cars is pretty much over.

“Fleets can have a voice in whether that happens by voting with their orders and supporting manufacturers that invest in the UK such as Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Toyota and BMW Mini. We are not without influence and it is perhaps appropriate that we have a conversation about the future of motor manufacturing in the UK and the role we could play.”

Golding added that the damage caused to UK motor manufacturing by both Brexit and the Covid crisis had been considerable, and further factories could disappear with surprising speed.

“It sometimes seems as though car manufacturers are a permanent feature of the economy but when Honda decided to go, the factory was closed very quickly. Similarly, those with greyer hair will remember the eventual end of MG Rover happening quite rapidly.

“To me, it would be a great shame if we were to see further losses of this kind in terms of jobs, prosperity, expertise, and the general health of industry in the UK.”

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Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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