Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ likely move into foreign ownership is a major benefit for British engineering.
Under Ford’s ownership, Aston Martin and Jaguar have been thriving. They have picked up substantial investments, turned out exciting new models created by British designers and engineers, and cashed in on savings in component and technology sourcing that have made the cars more competitive. All this while leaving the buyers in blissful ignorance of the scale of any input from Detroit in their cherished British marques.
BMW’s cash injections into the Rover Group following its acquisition in 1995 have secured hundreds of design and engineering jobs in the Midlands and created a new model programme that will include a replacement for the archetypal British car: the Mini.
South Korean car maker Daewoo’s acquisition of automotive consultancy IAD in Worthing has led to a fourfold increase in design and engineering jobs at the site, which now has responsibility for designing Daewoo models for world markets.
So whether it is BMW already engine supplier for future Rolls-Royce models in the driving seat, or any of the other runners and riders thought to be in the frame earlier this week, past experience suggests that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will come out well.
As Professor Garel Rhys of the Cardiff University Business School succinctly put it this week: we have now moved almost entirely from ‘a British motor industry’ to ‘a motor industry in Britain’.