Friday, December 15, 2000

Vauxhall reaches end of the road in Luton

The wrecking ball continues to crash its way through the UK car industry. Vauxhall announced the end of production at their main plant in Luton, north of London, with the loss of 2,500 jobs. The mid-range Vectra made at the plant never quite achieved the profile of its predecessor the Cavalier. An unremarkable car with little brand profile, I drove the equivalent Opel Vectra 1.6 on a long week-end in Holland and, while it was practical transport, I was happy to hand it back to the rental company with no intention of ever putting it on my shopping list.
Stephen Byers, Industry Minister, with his inspired backing for the rip-off Britain campaign has seen the price of cars coming down and wholesale plant closures and layoffs. The problems at Rover in Longbridge, the Ford closure at Dagenham, the pullback by Honda in Swindon and the threat of a Nissan closure in Sunderland have all looked like an own goal for the government. Beware the law of unintended consequences.

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