By Russell Bruce
The problem with British branding is brands, even those much associated with Britain, are moveable. British today – gone tomorrow. The car industry has long flagged up its concern about future access to EU markets, concerns over essential imported parts supplies, an unknown future customs regime and negotiations with the EU in perpetual disarray.
So this afternoon Jaguar Land Rover announced production of its Discovery model is moving entirely to Slovakia, a country of Scotland’s size, with a population of 5.4 million whose future in the EU is assured.
The EU have just dropped May’s backstop into the Irish Sea. She does not even have her ministers as a backstop to her premiership. Plenty carrying knives ready to pounce on May and fellow cabinet ministers with whom they violently disagree. Its a quaint way to run a government – Britannia marginalised in Ruritanian offshore ignominy, sinking slowly below those waves others now command.
For months the car industry has been trotting along to Downing street to hear platitudes from May. Clearly they have decided they can wait no longer. Jaguar Land Rover has a business to run and all they see is a UK government incapable of reaching any coherent plan for a future beyond Brexit, negotiating with itself rather than Europe.
The Brits have lost the place big time.
G7 square up to Trump
This amazing image, released by the German Federal Government, has gone viral in the last few days. Trump cornered and getting a few home truths from Mrs Merkel, backed by other members of the G7. The guy with the soup strainer moustache is John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser, a strident neo-conservative hawk and Bush presidency legacy who devised the weapons of mass destruction fiction that led to the Iraq war. His face is a picture. He cannot believe the G7 would have the audacity to corner a US president. Welcome to the new world Mr Bolton. The US is not as great as you thought it was.
The EU is a larger economic entity than the US. Something that might just be seeping into the minds of some UK ministers who thought they could pick off EU member states one by one to get a special deal over Brexit. The sun sets slowly on delusion and a small EU member state has just pinched production of Land Rover Discoveries from a UK that thought it could survive in a global world it would remake anew.
Brand British to Brand Slovakia
Production of the smaller Discovery Sport is to remain in the UK and the company have announced new investment for their Solihull and Halewood plants. The next generation Land Rover Defender is expected to be produced at the Slovakian site according to the FT.
The planning of car production lines is long in the making, almost as long as their production life when technology changes demand a reappraisal of resource allocation. For now the UK can take some comfort that Jaguar Land Rover’s largest production capacity remains in the UK. That former totality is now broken and JLR has become a multi country manufacturer and there are no long-term assurances that the UK will continue to be at the centre of JLR’s future.
There is logic in JLR’s investment in electric vehicles in UK plants. Electric vehicles have fewer parts and the commitment is ‘to pave the way’ for production down the line. When it comes to making that final decision on the years of development there is no certainty these plants will make the new electric models developed in England. Industry analysts predict more production will move to Slovakia.