The sudden Peugeot closure decision will put another dip in the UK car production chart.
The announcement was that Peugeot 206 production at Ryton will drop one of two shifts in July and stop completely by the middle of next year.

Last year the Coventry plant made 126,000 cars - down from a peak of 207,000 two years earlier. The 206 is in its eighth year of production and it was always a brave decision to suppose that its fresh and youthful good looks would keep it going far longer than is the norm for the industry.

As recently as July of last year, the French company said that it was committed to keeping Ryton going until 2010 - with or without a more recent model to build. That would have turned 206 into a 12-year-old. In the first quarter of the year, sales of 206 in the UK dipped 30% year on year.

In March, PSA started assembly of the 206 in China, though it did not expect to export the car back to Europe. The closure of Ryton next year means that the 206 tooling will be available for the new second factory for PSA in China - due in two years time.

Peugeot's UK surrender means the end of car production in Coventry now that Jaguar and the BL brands have left the city. The site operated for 60 years starting by building the Sunbeam Talbot 10.

Peugeot was one of the UK Big Four manufacturers - BL, Ford and Vauxhall being the others. Only the Vauxhall brand survives as a member of the elite. The other three now are the Japanese transplant trio - Nissan, Toyota and Honda. Nissan was first to arrive 20 years ago.

The official SMMT forecast for UK car production in 2006 was a modest 3% decline on last year. Adjusted for the loss of Peugeot the decline becomes 7%. Next year, the total loss of Peugeot should be offset by growth for a flat year.

Those with the best growth prospects are Land Rover, Nissan and MINI.

Nissan: production last year was 315,000 and will be flat this year. Almera and Primera are both on run out and the mix will be Micra - including the newly-introduced coupe convertible - the C+C, and the Qashqai 4x4 crossover that starts production at the end of the year. The Sunderland plant will also build the Note. Capacity is 370,000 on two shifts and 500,000 on three.

Toyota: last year production was 264,000 cars - more Avensis than Corolla. Growth potential is limited as the plant is only 7% short of capacity.

Honda: last year production was 187,500 - more CR-Vs than Civics. This year, CR-V production for the US market has been switched back to Japan and will decline by 60%. The plant will major on the ramp up of new Civic. The three-door version will join the five-door in the autumn and will be joined by the Type R at the end of the year. Plant capacity is 250,000.

MINI: built 200,161 last year and will make 17% fewer this year because of the production equipment renewal for a fresh product later in the year. The plant is so cramped on seven day, three shift working that it cannot make changes without loss of production. Next year capacity (and production) will rise to 240,000

Vauxhall: produced 188,000 Astras at Ellesmere Port last year and is at full capacity.

Land Rover: produced 185,120 last year and is expanding fast. The first quarter of this year was up 26% on last year. That increase cannot be sustained because Freelander is on run-out and the replacement arrives at the end of the year with full availability next year. Much of the growth this year will come from Range Rover Sport which has become a fully-fledged sub-brand.

Jaguar: Last year production was 90,000. The decline in sales has halted with the launch of the new XK.

click table to enlarge
click table to enlarge