Blog: Sign of the times
Dave Leggett | 14 March 2006
As my old boss at the SMMT, Simon Foster, used to say back in the late 1980s, 'It is not the British motor industry any longer; it's the motor industry in Britain'. Prescient words. Come on in, said Mrs Thatcher (who hated what was then the British motor industry as represented by state bailouts to British Leyland in the 1970s) in the mid-eighties. There were big grants then too. Nissan seized the opportunity first and was followed by Toyota and Honda.
Two decades after the Japanese began making cars here, Rover's gone. Ford doesn't make Ford brand cars here any more; the mighty Dagenham is engines only now. GM's Vauxhall doesn't make Cavs in Luton, Ellesmere Port is under threat and Peugeot's Coventry plant is first in line for any PSA downsizing in Europe. But the Japanese are apparently still very happy here and investing.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...