A UK government parliamentary committee saw mixed prospects for vehicle manufacturers here.


According to Reuters, the Trade and Industry Committee urged the government and industry to put more effort into improving skills and strengthening research.


Last year saw the closure of PSA’s Ryton Peugeot 206 plant outside Coventry, with catastrophic effects on the local community there, and GM axed one of three shifts at its Vauxhall/Opel Astra plant at Ellesmere Port near Liverpool. Further job losses cannot be ruled out.


On the other hand, however, some companies are investing. In particular the chairman of the committee, Peter Luff, noted that Ford is expanding engine manufacturing capacity and investing in research and development [though it is moving to close a Leamington Spa parts factory, not far from Ryton, according to a union statement on Thursday].


The fundamental cause of the cutbacks was excess world production capacity, Luff said.


“This does not mean that the UK automotive industry is doomed; but it does indicate that individual plants which are old-fashioned and inflexible, are simple assembly plants, are remote from the company’s supply chain, produce only one main model, and have productivity or skills problems will be vulnerable,” he said.


The committee noted that Honda, Nissan, Ford’s Land Rover and Toyota were all producing new models in Britain.