"One might bring to mind the Japanese overtaking the German camera industry, inconceivable to my father’s generation. Europe and North America seem to have produced the most out of touch and complacent politicians for 60 years. They must go, and go soon." By Godfrey Bloom MEP
• Those who watched Sunday night’s Top Gear programme might have been surprised that China now manufacturers more automobiles than Europe. Before you say “Good Lord, there’s a thing” and move on, be aware of what this means.
The dominance of American car production, thought unassailable post war was completely out performed by European and Japanese manufacturers to the extent that some of the great US brand names teetered upon bankruptcy. British motorcycle production went the same way, complete dominance to obscurity in under a decade. The automobile industry globally is a desperately over supplied market.
Competition is awesome. By European, Japanese and even Korean standards the Chinese are still behind in terms of style, innovation and build quality. However their pace of improvement is the fastest in the world. I do not foresee an early eclipse of the quality end of the market. Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls Royce, BMW and Mercedes are safe for the time being. The advancing Chinese middle class are already hungry for quality and genuine brand label goods.
Yet, in a few years, what of Peugeot, Ford, Nissan, Vauxhall and Fiat? The mass market is based on value for money, in other words quality and price.
European design and innovation will probably remain dominant for some years to come. Marketing skills probably also. I think the Chinese will make the same mistakes as America on badge engineering. I fully expect them to drop the pass with MG. The build quality of the Long Bridge cars, thanks to Honda and BMW towards the end of that era were simply world class at the top of the range.
Can the march of the Chinese on mass manufacture be thwarted by Europe? Maybe. The odds are stacked against us though the avalanche of regulation, taxation, employment legislation and a suicidal energy policy, making European electricity the most expensive in the world. I am also reliably informed by a UK manufacturer that the Chinese, where necessary can produce very high quality workmanship should the market demand it. One might bring to mind the Japanese overtaking the German camera industry, inconceivable to my father’s generation. Europe and North America seem to have produced the most out of touch and complacent politicians for 60 years. They must go, and go soon.