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Britain to overtake France in motor race?

We may not be able to match them when it comes to wine or cheese but it seems that Britain might finally be about to overtake France as the second largest car maker in Europe. Germany is way out in front with 5.5 million vehicles built, with France coming in a distant second at 1.9 million.

We may not be able to match them when it comes to wine or cheese but it seems that Britain might finally be about to overtake France as the second largest car maker in Europe. Germany is way out in front with 5.5 million vehicles built, with France coming in a distant second at 1.9 million. Last year the UK managed 1.5 million but according to the Automobile Manufacturers' Association, that could hit 2 million by 2018. The view that Britain could then overtake France is shared by two senior motor industry executives in the UK. BMW's UK managing director, Tim Abbott, speaking at last week's SMMT said: "All the indications appear to be saying Britain will be second in a few years. It will be about the demand for the cars made in the UK but that looks to be there judging by the recent performance of the likes of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Nissan and BMW." His views were echoed by Nissan UK executive vice president, Andy Palmer, who added: "You could see it happening if UK plants are at full capacity, which they are not far off being."

The market trends would also support that view. French manufacturers Renault and Peugeot Citroen have all experienced slowing sales in recent years. Production in Europe as a whole dropped to a 17 year low in 2012, as the EU continues to struggle with recession and the Euro crisis. This contrasts with the British situation where sales leapt nearly 21% in May and almost 10% for the year to date, figures that have seen UK production surpass pre-recession levels. This stark contrast is perhaps best explained by the different markets for French and UK cars. Where France tends to look to its own domestic market and across Europe for its customers, the UK is looking further afield. Emerging markets like China have taken a shine to the UK's prestige marques and these British manufacturers are cashing in on their growth. This has led to 15 months of consecutive growth and UK car sales have now topped 948,666 in 2013. China is now JLR's biggest market and the British company has built a factory there to produce 130,000 cars per year. Over at Rolls-Royce, a company spokesman revealed that one in four Rolls-Royces is now sold in China. With Britain concentrating on luxury brands while France churns out mass market cars, the future is looking very good indeed for the UK industry, as an SMMT spokesman commented: "With government support and vehicle manufacturers investing billions in UK plants, the prospects are very good."
 

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