The British car industry is a global success story. In 2014, the number of cars built here, but sold abroad, were worth £24.6 billion and accounted for 11.8% of British exports.
The industry also supports 800,000 jobs around the country, of which 190,000 are involved in actually making cars. It’s easy to counter that many of our best-known car brands are now foreign-owned, but making motors is still big business.
So how can you play your part in ensuring this Great British industry enjoys continued success? It’s simple: buy British.
People frequently think buying home-grown either involves a quirky kit car that you build and maintain yourself or something like an Aston Martin that’s the preserve of the rich and famous. In fact, more popular motors than you might think are made in Britain.
For a start, three of the 10 most popular cars on the road are British built: the Vauxhall Astra is made in Ellesmere Port, Liverpool, while Nissan’s Qashqai and Juke are built in Sunderland.
Then there’s the Honda Civic, CR-V and Jazz. All are built in Swindon, while Toyota makes its Avensis and Auris models in Burnaston near Derby.
Bigger budget posh cars
If you want to go upmarket, Midlands-based Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has an apparently ever-expanding range of cars.
The all-new Jaguar XE has been praised by critics as a viable alternative to the BMW 3 Series. The Land Rover Discovery is a must-have among the country set. And with its unique combination of off-road ability and limo-like luxury, the £74,000-plus Range Rover is a candidate for the best car in the world.
MINI is another famous British name, but rather than being in the hands of an Indian company (like JLR), it’s been rejuvenated by a German firm (BMW). Nonetheless, MINI’s entire model range, bar its larger Countryman model, is built at its factory in Oxford.
Britain also has a well-founded reputation for making sportscars.
Prime examples are Lotus from its base near Norwich; Caterham which is down in Dartford, Kent; and Morgan at the foot of the Malvern Hills. All make the kind of racy two-seaters only hardcore drivers will use every day. But no matter how frequently you drive them they’re guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Millionaires’ play things
Aston Martin is best known for supplying super-spy James Bond with his wheels. The company is currently undergoing yet another regeneration but remains a viable alternative to Germany’s Porsche.
McLaren meanwhile is the new kid on the block, producing hi-tech sports cars from a Woking ‘factory’ that’s so spotless it’s more akin to an anesthetically orderly operating theatre. At £1 million a pop, its P1 is one of the quickest, most advanced cars available.
Bentley and Rolls-Royce are now owned by German companies (Volkswagen and BMW respectively) but they’re still made in Britain. And after years of being effectively the same firm, they’re now in competition.
Cheshire-based Bentley has recently made headlines with its new Bentayga, the fastest SUV (a lot of) money can buy. Rolls-Royce meanwhile has just announced that its factory in Goodwood, West Sussex will be building a ‘small convertible’ – yours for just £250,000.
So if you’re thinking of getting a new car, there are plenty of British built models available.