Richard Northedge, in his column for today’s edition of The Independent on Sunday, puts together some facts and figures about the UK motor industry that I guessed at but could not say I knew for certain until now.
The myth is that carmakers are major manufacturers. That was why ministers battled last week to rescue jobs at LDV, Jaguar, Land Rover and Vauxhall. But that fact is the motor sector is a service industry: far more people sell and service cars than make them.
Ford employs 13,000 people making engines and vehicles – but 22,000 in its dealerships. Vauxhall, the UK subsidiary of the troubled General Motors, employs 5,500 people producing Astras at Ellesmere Port and vans at Luton; it supports another 7,000 people at supplier companies, but there are 23,000 jobs at dealers.
The industry’s trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, claims the sector employs more than 800,000 people but only 180,000 in manufacturing, with another 106,000 making components. That leaves more than half a million people in showrooms, service bays and elsewhere.
The people who work in the manufacturing side – my side – of the industry will probably find these figures a tad disturbing. They like to thing that their numbers count when the plead to be treated as a special cases.