Downfall of the British Automobile Industry—Part 2: British Leyland

In Part 1, on 2023-04-02, we saw how the postwar consolidation of the British automotive industry led to the formation of British Motor Corporation (BMC), which went on to absorb Jaguar in 1966. This left BMC and Leyland Motors as the only two large domestic auto manufacturers in the U.K. (Ford continued to be a major presence in the market, but was wholly owned by its U.S. parent company.)

In 1968, the ratchet of government “encouraged” consolidation advanced another notch with the merger of BMC and Leyland to form British Leyland Motor Corporation. Merging two companies struggling with antiquated product lines, obsolete factory equipment, obstructionist and radical trade unions, and dealer networks competing against one another worked about as well as you can imagine, and the whole rickety edifice collapsed in 1975, with the British Labour goverment of Harold Wilson nationalising the wreckage under the guidance of Minister of Technology “Red Tony” Benn, which was certain to improve the situation, as politicians and bureaucrats obviously know more about manufacturing automobiles that appeal to customers than those who have been building them for three quarters of a century.

British Leyland was subsequently renamed Rover Group and sold to BMW in 1986. The divested MG Rover Group finally collapsed in 2005, bringing mass market domestic auto manufacturing in Britain to an end.


Politicians and bureaucrats know more about every task than those who have studied and performed them their entire lives, just ask any politician. Look how much that’s improving, say, the US manufacturing industries


We’re seeing a re-run of this with politicians knowing more about AI than those who actually develop it.


Interestingly, mass market auto manufacturing continues in the UK – but now it is foreign-owned and the UK has become a mere branch factory for other countries manufacturing empires. Per the SMMT, the UK in 2022 produced about 775, 000 automobiles and 100,000 commercial vehicles. 80% of the cars were exported. Check your Nissan carefully!

If anyone is awake (not awoke) in the DC Swamp, they might want to look at what has happened to the once-great UK auto manufacturing industry as a real world model of where they are taking the US. According to David Goldman, China manufactured 27 million automobiles in 2022, versus the US 10 million. And domestic Chinese auto company BYD has just launched an electric vehicle at one third of the price of a Tesla – and it plans to export its vehicles. Can the US turn things around and avoid the UK’s dismal fate?

China’s 4th Industrial Revolution rattles US tech stocks – Asia Times