The motor industry

 

          The Uk motor industry has been a success story in recent years. Tata’s launch of the new Range Rover has underlined its move to strong growth at home and abroad, with attractive 4 wheel drive products that the world market wants.  BMW’s Mini remains a popular vehicle, whilst the leading Japanese companies make high quality cars in the UK and export around Europe from this base. The Uk has become a specialist centre for engine manufacture for groups like Ford and BMW. Cutting edge engineering for Formula One cars remains a central feature of the UK’s exposure to this important sector.

         The decision by Ford to close its Transit assembly in Southampton was part of a wide range of closures and retrenchments around Europe. The industry is now being badly hit by the collapse in demand for autos in the stressed southern countries of Euroland, and by the slowdown in France and Germany. Much of the Euro area is in  or is moving into recession. Motor manufacturers have high levels of operational gearing. When final demand falls away stock levels need to fall, so demand for new product from the factory falls by considerably more than the decline in final customer demand.

          The way through for the UK industry is to sell more into the growing markets of China, India and the rest of the emerging world, and to design and produce such good products that they will gain market share even in declining markets.  The issues today for motor manufacturing relate to energy and logistics costs  more than to labour costs. Modern factories are highly automated and very energy dependent. Bought in materials and components are crucial to cost and manufacturing efficiency. The Uk government has to have in place an energy and transport policy which is friendly to mass production of engineered products.  It also needs to make sure there is a plentiful supply of skilled engineers and managers capable of organising sophisticated modern output.

          The figures for much of the rest of the EU make depressing reading. In September Greek purchases of cars were down by 48% on September 2011. In Spain the fall was 36.8%, Italy down by a quarter, France almost by a fifth and Germany itself down by 11%. The huge falls in the southern states shows how intense the austerity squeeze now is. The collapse in car sales will help mend balance of payments deficits, at the cost of hitting output  across the Eurozone. UK car sales are up so far this year, though even here there was a drop in September.  The Euro crisis is now having a big impact on living standards and jobs.

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114 Comments

  1. Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    As you say “The UK government has to have in place an energy and transport policy which is friendly to mass production of engineered products. It also needs to make sure there is a plentiful supply of skilled engineers and managers capable of organising sophisticated modern output.” Clearly they have no such thing, they have an energy policy based around the carbon dioxide religion and very poor roads and transport infrastructure.

    Given the huge problems of the southern parts of the EU you illustrate perhaps Osborne should give us all an update on the profits that he promised taxpayers on the PIGIS “investments” that he foolishly made with tax payer’s money?

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      It is interesting to read in the Daily Mail about Professor Patrick Pullicino suggesting that some NHS doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly – the “Liverpool Care Pathway”.

      I suppose that, is just the way the financial drivers of the “pay today, get what you are given later” NHS and government now works. Free at the point of euthanasia it seems.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

        FT Alphaville were running a ‘Kill the Old’ series a while back, the numbers really don’t seem to stack up.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        Vote Conservative get green. Soylent Green.

        • Posted October 30, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

          The LCP as a regime for a persons last few hours was assessed in 2001, recommended in NICE in 2004 and introduced nationally 2004-2007. I doubt there has been any political influence at all but if you were to associate a political mindset with it you missed your target by a country mile as it wasn’t the Conservatives in government at that time.

          If you were looking for political exploitation of health then perhaps consider Labour’s dispicable tactics with cancer sufferers in 2010 when they targeted scare mongering election leaflets at people whose details they obtained from NHS records.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Did I really hear, just now, Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs actually say something, almost sensible, on energy and wind farms just now (radio 4). True when asked about Cameron’s toy turbine in Notting Hill he did not quite say “Oh that was just a silly gimmick by the mad eco loon Cameron, due to his totally misguided reading of electoral advantage.” But clearly that was what he thought.

      Did George Osborne really call the green loons the “environmental Taliban” too. Clearly progress is being made. It seems, a joint letter to Mr Osborne from some of these people – Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the RSPB and WWF-UK has said they would be “most grateful” if he could clarify his comments. I hope he clarifies in robust terms. He might send a few of the countless birds and bats killed by the turbines to them perhaps.

      Perhaps it is time to consider if membership of these organisations should become a criminal matter. Or at least if any charitable tax relief is removed. The problem is that, due to Cameron’s idiocy at the election, the Tories are stuck in coalition with these “environmental Taliban” types. They also have large numbers of them in their party and on the relevant committees – many with large personal interest in the farcical, green, state subsidy agenda.

      More is on the excellent Delingpole blog.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Ah! such gems in his blog as and I quote: Last week, Oxford Theology Faculty Fellow Dr Andrew Linzey wrote in The Journal of Animal Ethics that instead of calling animals ‘pets’, we should call them ‘companion animals’. This is just one man’s opinion; there’s no obligation to do what he says. Seriously.
        Bullshit. Winterval was a series of events organised by Birmingham City Council in the winters of 1997 and 1998 to encourage citizens to spend more money in the town centre. No council anywhere has ever banned Christmas and replaced it with Winterval.
        As a Libertarian Conservative, Dingbat sees the possible solutions to climate change (such as energy conservation, investment in alternative sources of energy or the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by the industry) as a threat to his ideological beliefs in the free market and complete, individualistic freedom from the state. However, rather than criticise the proposed actions which the Government might take to prevent and/or deal with runaway global warming, he instead denies the science, rejecting all the evidence he doesn’t like without any consideration and accusing anyone who accepts the reality of climate change of either being part of a conspiracy, an eco-fascist and/or a libtard. His stance on the matter is ideological, not scientific, as his conclusions are formed on existing prejudices instead of the evidence. Much like yours lifelogic and your lack of sensible reply to these accusations speaks volumes of your idealogical brainwashing you so despise in others with your anti equality, workplace rights, and other white, middle aged, middle class male (attitudes-ed). Ram it.

        Reply: No hint of ideology or prejudice in this reply?

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          The solutions to climate change are:- lets see if it actually happens on thermometers, it certainly does not seem to be happening. If so then adapt as needed. Far more sensible than the absurdly costly (regional) reduction of C02. All the historical evidence suggest a little hotter is, on balance, better anyway.

          Use any money we have now to do things that we know work, clean water, inoculations, maternity care, birth control, nutrition, control of malaria and similar.

          I thought Dingbat was George Monbiot but even he has come round to nuclear and admitting he was basically wrong.

          • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

            Given that the average global temperature is rising this means that thermometers so show global warming is happening. Yet again lifelogic you’ve ignored all evidence you don’t like.

            The historical evidence shows that a little hotter is actually very bad; especially if you live in a country that has a high temperature as an even higher temperature results in droughts and crop failure becoming even worse.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            uanime5

            Try ACTUALLY reading the latest Met reports, global average temperatures HAVE NOT risen for 16 years

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          “rejecting all the evidence” – well there is no evidence that Co2 will cause serious problems, quite the reverse. It is one of very many factors affection climate – probably on balance causing a little net warming but only one of very many factors. No reason to assume a disaster is looming at all. A little hotter is probably better than cold anyway.

          • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

            Scientists have proven again and against that CO2 is causing serious problems, especially in countries that are already very hot and don’t want to be even hotter. Yet again lifelogic you’ve rejected all the evidence that doesn’t fit your delusions.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            uanime5: “Scientists have proven again and against that CO2 is causing serious problems . ”

            Because you uanime5, say a thing doesn’t make it so. You are in error in your statement, but just for the record, ‘ some scientists have computer models that predict exceptional atmospheric behavior under some peculiar circumstances’. That is not proof, nor have scientists ‘proven time and again’ any relationship with, largely fictional anthropogenic global warming and levels of CO2. It is all supposition.

            uanime5: “Yet again lifelogic you’ve rejected all the evidence ..”

            Yet again uanime5, you have made up relationships that have not been proven.

            By the way, in large part, the climate ‘scientists’ are in the pay of government and lobby government, and it is government that proposess to destroy our economy with high energy taxes in order to address the largely fictional anthropogenic climate change. As always, follow the money.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            There is no global warming an CO2 has little effect other than to cause a small rise in temperature which might be a good thing. A bit muddled there for sure.
            The ice is much less in the polar regions and in many glaciers. Photo evidence show this has happened in the last hundred years and you have to admit the weather has been strange in recent years.Your beliefs are based in prejudice and not scientific evidence. Have you tried riding that heavy bike yet. No you probably agree with statements like exercise is a major cause of death. Bikes are dangerous. Breathing produces more co2 than a car, or anything else that fits your often fat silly middle aged mans world view. A view that has no equal.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

            APL scientists have proven that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere effects the temperature of the planet and that raising the level of CO2 will raise the temperature. The fact that you don’t like this don’t make it wrong or a guess.

          • Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

            uanime5: “scientists have proven that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere effects the temperature of the planet and that raising the level of CO2 will raise the temperature.”

            No they haven’t, nor is the second clause of your statement proven.

            What we know is there is likely a correlation between the level of CO2 and temperature.

            Correlation is not causation. In fact it is at least possible that the causal relationship you claim exists is reversed.

            In fact it has been suggested that the rise in CO2, lags the rise in temperature which is what you’d expect if the increase in temperature leads to an increase in flora which implies an increase in fauna.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

          “Ah! such gems in his blog as and I quote”

          I see you are actually quoting from ‘Dick Mandrake’s blog’ and his ‘panegyric’ of Monday, 16 May 2011, “The A-Z of Delingpole Being a Twat”, so why not credit him? I also note that Dick Mandrake gives his interests as, “science, skepticism, politics, technology, Doctor Who, video games, the Internet, old media”. So, some polymath then, rather similar to yourself.

          As to “runaway global warming”, I think you will find that “runaway global warming” is premised on such disproven theories as:

          1. Increased atmospheric CO2 acts synergistically with the far more significant ‘greenhouse gas’, H20, to accelerate the rate of global warming.

          2. Increases in global temperatures will reduce the rate of radiation escaping through the atmosphere.

          Neither is true. CAGW is non-science designed to fool enough guardianistas into undermining our economy and making most of us poorer whilst making banksters wealthier. Is that really what you want?

          • Posted October 30, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

            I have pointed out why Dingbat is (silly-ed) myself and in more detail than Mandrake, but lifelogic can have some of him too as nothing will convince lifelogic of his myopic world view backed up by the likes of Dingbat and anyone else who cannot see further than his middle aged middle class life and his reliance on the middle class social security system. Have anything to say about that? No. Thought not. Their U turns and take on many common thing are laughable. Motorbikes? Terrible things unless they have one, then the greatest thing ever. Most have no curiosity to find out what the attraction is anyway. Children. Hate em’ until they have one then they have invented children. All previous thought are erased. Tossers in short.
            The main point of the middle aged global warming sceptic is that it is impossible to prove and because of this is proved not true. Though sense tells us that it would be wise not to put billions of tonnes into the atmosphere and expect no change. There will be no change and you know this. The belief is based on blind fatalism and all the future is preordained. A self sustaining eco system has never been achieved by man even on a small scale, so it would be wise to be cautious. The earth will survive us, but will we survive the earth? Is not just for hippies. The dirt from burning fossil fuels is also very real. Is pollution and over reliance on fossil fuels a non science? Nuclear? Within the M25 and privately funded. Directors not allowed to leave the site during problems and private jets grounded please. All scientific realism. Ram it.

          • Posted November 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

            Ram it.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

          “Runaway global warming” ???? Er where have you been living? There’s been NO rises at all in the last 16 years let alone “runaway”.

          And you have the front to talk about ideology, how about attempting to get to grips with some facts

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            According to NASA every decade has on average been warmer than the previous decade. Perhaps you should get your information from a reputable source libertarian.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          Bazman
          You are wrong as usual but in particular about winterval.
          B’ham Council backtracked rapidly from an original policy of wanting to re name Christmas but were overwhelmed by opposition which in the main came from non-Christians who said don’t do this in our name.
          I’ve lived in Birmingham all my life .
          Either get your facts right or do us all a favour and shut up

          • Posted October 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            It’s nonsense like the Metric Martyrs scaremongering old woman that they will be arrested if they ask for a pound of apples. Want to give us a laugh and tell us why Britain should stand alone with the imperial system and why this system is better than metric. America has imperial measurements? Yes it does. 1.76 litres being called a pint banned. Really.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        As usual, follow the money……

        zorro

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          Yes, always follow the money. The rest of it is usually just a smokescreen. This sometimes works with scams. Despite how many different companies / people have been phoning or writing to the poor confused chap who has turned up in our office asking where his money / pension has gone. Just follow the money and ask the **** nicely for it back before national regulators and the legal profession end up involved.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

          Well Big Oil has a lot to lose if people stop using petrol in favour of trains and electric cars.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

            uanime5: “Well Big Oil has a lot to lose if people stop using petrol in favour of trains and electric cars.”

            Gobsmacked

            The electricity to power the trains and charge the batteries for the cars needs to be generated somehow, that won’t much be at the windmills, in fact 98% will be generated by gas, oil and nuclear and hydro power sources.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        “Perhaps it is time to consider if membership of these organisations should become a criminal matter.”

        Hmm, a few days ago you were whining that your brilliant worldview was going to be turned into a criminal offence by some imagined political correctness. It seems that instead you are suggesting that people who don’t hold your particular (or should that be peculiar) worldview should be deemed criminal.

  2. Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    We don’t need an energy policy or a transport policy. We need a free market in both sectors. Private entrepreneurs and companies would immediately fill any needs in a fast and efficient manner, completely different from the intrusive, ineffective and counter productive government bungling that has led to all the distortions and imbalances currently so obvious throughout the economy.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Like they did in banking? That is where you free market energy fantasy will take us.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        It was not a free market, the government had deposit guarantees and failed to understand the real risks they had taken on.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          Plus the government bureaucratically rationed planning permission and tried to control mortgage interest rates.

        • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          lifelogic: “It was not a free market, the government had deposit guarantees and failed ..”

          Quite so. But don’t forget either, an expanding economy favours the incumbent administration, it is in the short term in their interests to inflate the economy as it makes people feel wealthier.

          Edward Heath inflated a housing bubble, and a couple of decades later Margaret Thatcher did too, Tony Blair and his finance minister blew the biggest housing bubble in UK history and blew up the banks and destroyed the UK economy too.

          But it bought them two election victories.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      People should open up their fireplaces and start burning coal. This would reduce their energy costs.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        No it would not. Coal household coal is not cheap and fires are inefficient. It’s like saying use candles instead of CF lightbulbs. Not real and messy to boot.

        • Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

          Bazman: Coal household coal is not cheap and fires are inefficient.”

          Nor are electric cars energy efficient. But you advocate them.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            When have I ever advocated electric cars? I have said in some cases they could be useful. Electrically powered vehicles such as fork lifts are common. Milk floats were powered by batteries for years.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        We have an open fire Have you seen the price of a bag of coal lately!

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        Indeed or just get a hot water bottle, put a jumper and some longjohns on and go and chop some wood – it warms you twice and saves going to the Gym too.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

          Ever lived with a wood burning heating system lifelogic? Even if you have the resources the work is unbelievable. Wood burns very quickly to give you a clue.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            Bazman: “Wood burns very quickly to give you a clue.”

            Four or five logs will keep a modest fire burning all evening.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            Bazman

            You are the perfect advert for socialism. You are wrong about everything. Woodburning systems are very efficient and really easy

          • Posted October 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

            A lot of hassle and expense for very little saving over gas. Feeding the wood, collecting the ash. Soot, dirt, maintenance, pollution. Some of us have better thing to do whilst having unlimited hot water 24/7 Adjusting the temperature of the house/room by one digital thermostat and radiator valves. Or by remote control from bed to control the climate when I am in my pit. All cheaper than a wood burning system. Not as silly as an electric AGA though. Are they capitalism or socialism? I’ll ask the cat.

  3. Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    It is interesting that UK car sales are up when those in the Eurozone are down. Our economy is not in any better state than most of the Eurozone countries (in terms of debt and growth). We have devalued our currency, which should make it easier for people in the Eurozone to buy our products but does not make it easier for people in the UK to buy them, so you would expect us to export more and for less to go to domestic purchasers.

    Maybe there is better business confidence in the UK, where we at least have a clear way out of depression and debt, even if it is taking longer than we had hoped. It remains unclear how, or even if, the Eurozone will get out of its troubles and maybe that is holding back companies’ willingness to make investments and peoples’ willingness to spend savings that they might need if things get even worse.

    Or are there a lot of people in the UK whose income and savings are not affected by the country’s economic problems and who feel able to buy cars and other goods?

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      You ask “are there a lot of people in the UK whose income and savings are not affected by the country’s economic problems and who feel able to buy cars and other goods?”

      Indeed anyone in the state sector with a state sector pension and with a floating rate, long term, mortgage has not really suffered one jot from the downturn. Just benefited from the low mortgage rate.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Who like? Specific examples. The average council worker for instance? Not real.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

          According to ONS the average wage in the UK private sector is £25,000 whilst the average wage in the state sector is £28,802 ( this doesn’t include the longer holiday entitlements, sick pay and pension that should be added on top)

          So yes its very real…. go check

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          I work in a council and they are full of middle aged homeowners with expensive houses purchased in the 70’s/80’s/90′ with dirt cheap mortgages.

          My latest council even has a lease car scheme, and I must admit, it will be tempting to grab a Fiesta ST or something when I qualify for it in a few months.

          • Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            “Yeah! Nice to ave’ a job on the council. Though I do miss the cut and thrust of working for a private cleaning company Guv!” Idiots. Wages have been stagnated since about 2004. You propose to drag the average down to the level of private companies that often pay below average to thousands whilst paying telephone numbers to managers and shareholders? Your simplistic trick to lower wages is to compare reputable small businesses to large corporations and disreputable scam business frauds. Ram it. I’m coming to get you.

  4. Posted October 27, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Why is it that previoiusly successful UK-owned brands needed foreign owners to make them once again profitable?

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      It is a long and complicated story. Poor management decisions played their part. Shop steward power to disrupt played its part. Government intervention played its part. One of the most damaging examples was the Wilson government promotion, via the IRC, of the original LeylandCorporation-BMH merger. This created an unmanageable monster. It was compounded by the Ryder Report. It did not help that the 1970s were an exceptionally turbulent decade economically – oil pric[v]e shocks, huge currency swings (following the adoption of floating currencies) – the worst deacde since the 1820s according to Niall Ferguson in his recent Reith Lecture..

      • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        You rightly highlight the factors contributing to the downfall.

        But obviously at least some brands had value and the UK workforce a competitive manufacturing ability, but the investment to exploit the potential did not come from the UK.

  5. Posted October 27, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    There’s a lot here but a lot missing:

    Are we too dependent on motor manufacturing in comparison to say, the Germans or even Irish which have other important manufacturing engineering sectors? These have either collapsed in the UK (power generation plant, electonics) or never happened (medical equipment).

    Why are you pushing automotive when, as you say, demand is collapsing in S Europe and on the brink elsewhere?

    Will we be cheaper at producing cars than China or other Far East?

    Why don’t we have any indigenous Companies which can set up spanner plants in the Far East to produce quality cars there? Surely companies which can set up plants there will, in the end, prosper rather than us shipping cars there? Remember Nissan/Toyota 30 years ago setting up plants in their key export markets?

    I’d say we should be keeping our BMW and other spanner plants going, trying to encourage more R and D for them here, but actually encouraging the indigenous engineering companies (you know, those that actually pay Corporation Tax here) to expand, even if that excludes assembly of cars.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      More a case of motor assembly than manufacturing. Britain does have a large car parts manufacturing base, though many of the components are imported for many cars and the design also happens abroad. They could easily just move abroad their assembly plants so why are they here with our inferior education system and high taxation/regulation. Have a think and get back to us,

  6. Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Most people change their cars far too often – mine was made in 1996, bought in 2003, & I hope never to have to buy another one.
    But it was made in Solihull, which explains THAT.
    Also, it’s gone all quiet about the nasty “unions” in motor manufacturing, now that most UK motor-making is NOT owned by British bosses … funny that, I wonder if it might be something to do with the quality of management, now, compared to previously?

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Greg Tingey: “I wonder if it might be something to do with the quality of management, now, compared to previously?”

      Could be, but too it might be the ‘green field’ sites where Nissan, Toyota et al have their factories are not unionised. Certainly didn’t have the entrenched ‘spanish practices’ that the established unionised sites did.

      Was management bad? Probably. Were the unions above suspicion? Unlikely.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, industrial relations is a two way thing.

        • Posted October 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          Not if you are an employer.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed people most do seem to change cars too often, but then some newer cars (and most other new products) do have designed in redundancy. Even a worn clutch or a minor fault can be absurdly expensive and difficult to repair due to the design or the cost of parts. Software too (which should never breakdown or wear out) has designed in redundancy too to force you into new purchases.

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        You are living in a dreamworld. The old cars did not often last long enough to become redundant. Modern cars though they have expensive parts are on the whole reliable. How often do you see blokes spannering cars in the street these days compared to the 1970/80’s. Come back Cortina all is forgiven? Not by me it hasn’t. The Mondeo I own is a far superior and cheaper to run machine. Might cost £800 for a clutch, but also might never need one.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

          Bazman – Certainly one of the better things of today (along with smoke free public transport) I do not miss the bleeding knuckles and cracked fingertips having carried out repairs in the cold and wet at the roadside.

          A girlfriend of mine had the decency to breakdown outside Stockwell Motors one night – I hailed a taxi for us back to my pad and I was able to exchange a new starter motor for her the next morning. She was such a looker the shop keeper did it for us. Class !

          I once broke down outside a parts shop in the wilds of Lincolnshire – it was in the process of closing down but it had the one part I needed. A condenser for a Ford Fiesta.

          My motoring life was one of lucky break downs in those days. I never once got stuck.

          • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

            PS. I have a Mondy too. Excellent cars.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      The decisive battle was fought by Edwardes in 1980 – but that was bout ten years too late.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Companies are owned by the shareholders, not ‘The Management’, (assuming they do not own many shares in the company). Bosses are usually poor managers and inevitably poor leaders.

      The problem could be to do with the realisation that there is now little public (taxpayers’) money available to throw at failing enterprises. With this missing, survivability enters the frame, and this helps foster a more more realistic approach. The quality of management is of minor importance when their reasoning can be safely ignored.

      I am not arguing that the quality of management could not be improved. What I am saying is that, with an unlimited supply of money to bail out out an organisation, there is no incentive to apply any discipline, intelligence or rigor to improve the situation.

      A change of personnel can also be an aid to recognising that change has occurred.

  7. Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    We hear of the proposal to use council pensions to fund house building.

    Wouldn’t it be better to use these funds to create the conditions for a manufacturing resurgence instead ?

    In building more houses instead of energy capacity and factory units aren’t we putting the cart before the horse ?

    I travel extensively with my job and all I ever see is factories being torn down to be replaced by housing estates or huge shopping barns. Where are these people going to work ?

    The obvious solution to the housing shortage is not being tackled. Mr Cameron’s “Restrict immigration from without the EU” to assuage Tory voter angst smacks of the establishment’s belief that race is the issue for us. It isn’t. But he makes it clear how shallow he thinks we are.

    Britain is full. Under the open border policy unemployment and Govt debt will remain high no matter how many manufacturing jobs are created.

    Why else did the welfare bill and debt shoot up under the ‘boom’ years ?

    The very best we can expect is for it to happen again if we maintain the open border/welfarist policy because high unemployment and Govt debt are the unavoidable waste product of this toxic ‘strategy’.

    I use ‘strategy’ loosely of course. There is no strategy. Just capitulation.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Abolish welfare to all and then the ‘strategy’ might work.

      Which party has the guts to try it ?

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        As this country has minimum living standards and entitlements for it’s population none and how long would you last under this regime?

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        So you’re going to end the State Pension are you? That would sink whichever party suggested it for eternity. Or is it only non-retired people you want to remove from welfare?

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

          Bazman and Wab – You have both missed my point.

          I disagree with Bazman that we are ‘entitled’ to anything in this world. That thinking is what has got us into this fix.

          I’m glad of IDS’s welfare reforms and would not wish to scrap welfare entirely. I would not wish to scrap pensions at all – though I do struggle with the idea that someone who has not worked can ‘retire’. (It’s also iniquitous that means testing of private pensions can result in someone who’s saved being worse off than someone who hasn’t.)

          However, I do wish to see a stop to mass immigration (as do 67% of Labour voters and nearly all Tory voters) .

          So long as we have mass immigration I fail to see how an increase in manufacturing will bring down unemployment or improve national debt.

          More work opportunities begets more immigration – begets more British people on the dole. How do we stop them going on the dole without taking it away from them ?

          You’re right. It won’t be done. So this policy of welfarism/mass immigration is unsustainable and will lead to our bankruptcy.

          I fail to see how Mr Redwood’s ideas are going to make things better.

          There isn’t enough manufacturing in the world to keep up with socio/economic model we have.

          Mass immigration is the issue which threatens to see the Tories out of office in 2015.

          We’ll need one heck of an economic revival to persuade people of my ilk to vote them back in.

          • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

            My regret is voting Tory at the last election. It’s been taken as a mandate to continue mass immigration.

            As it turns out we’d have had a better chance if Labour had got in and carried the can – who was to blame would have been beyond dispute. Labour would be finished by now.

            “So would the country.”

            I doubt it thought I don’t dispute that things would have been very grim indeed. It would have been worth the ticket price just to see Ed Balls publicly humiliated. By 2015 the Tories will have been cast as the achitects of our demise – and far too late for a Balls denoument I’m afraid.

            The defeated Tory party would have split and by now we’d have had a credible Real Tory opposition and the democratic deficit would have been restored.

            Hard times – but not as hard as they’re going to get now.

            Mr Redwood. Without any idea of the numbers of people that are going to be here (or how they are likely to think, earn and behave) I can’t understand how you can make any reliable projections on anything.

            Reply: Forecasters do use population and migration figures in their forecasts. The rising population does of course mean that the per capita results of the Uk are lower than the unadjusted figures for cinome and output.

          • Posted October 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            You miss the point. The country is entitled not to see you or your family starve. Minimum standards in this country. How the recipients are forced or persuaded to have some of their own is the big question.

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      I agree. Just because construction is down does not mean we need more construction.

  8. Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    John, the UK doesn’t have a “Motor Industry”, at best we have an assembly industry, in other words those employed might as well be assembling widgets or Christmas crackers. Also, to my mind something is British when it is owned by either a British citizens, is largely owned by UK shareholding, is owned by the UK state or at the very least the profits remain in the UK.

    To list UK car factories and ownership;

    Bentley = Germany (VW)
    BMW Mini = German
    Ford UK/Europe = USA (Ford)
    Honda = Japan
    Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) = Indian (Tata)
    Nissan = Japan/French (Renault)
    Rolls Royce = German (BMW)
    Toyota = Japan
    Vauxhall = USA (GM)

    The Commercial sector is no better either (in fact it is probably worse), so there really isn’t anything to write home about, even less boast about, if successive plant closures or buy-ups (over the last 20 plus years) are a success story for the UK then I would hate to think what failure is! 🙁

    The only real motor industry left in the UK is motor sport, very high end limited production, mostly coach-built, cars (such as Aston Martin), specialist vehicles and a limited design/R&D presence. Whilst obviously welcome non are high GDP earners in themselves.

    As for the Ford Transit, what you say simply doesn’t add up (seems to be repeating the Ford PR briefing…), so there is apparently a slow down in southern Europe, so production is moving away from were the market is -northern Europe, and in the case of the UK closures -the only RHD market! It is obvious that this has more to do with cheaper labour, not unsold vehicles.

    Reply; The UK has a large engine manufacture business, and substantial R and D and design facilities.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Reply to Reply:

      Which begs the question “Is the UK’s design expertise (in other sectors as well as cars) being wasted on benefiting foreign owned companies rather than our own?”

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        How are you making the connection between ‘listed on an overseas stock exchange’ and ‘foreign owned’?

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      I read a UK fund managers report that said Germans spend more money on cut flowers than equities. He invested UK savers money and owned holdings in BMW and Daimler.

      • Posted October 28, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        Hmm, yet the German economy is in far better health, could it be because Germans still know the worth of things and not just the value?…

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      yes in the light of a request for detail; keep it vague. Nice and general and somewhat comforting reply.

  9. Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    All the contenental manufacturers will be pushing hard to sell their cars in the UK – the one market apparently still left standing. Good deals should be available for those willing to look for them.

  10. Posted October 27, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    OK JR, where was the anti EU brigade Friday? Mr Carswell had about six MPs on his side and two on the labour side, I didn’t see you there or the other ninety-odd Euro-sceptics. (European Communities Act 1972 (Repeal) Act 2012).

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

      Yes – was Jacob Rees-Mogg there?

      After saying on Question Time a few weeks back that the European Commission had ordered the removal of the Prime MInister of Italy and Greece I thought he would be particularly motivated to join the other 8 or 10 MPs who turned up. But I didn’t seem him. Maybe he was there and I just didn’t see him.

      • Posted October 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        With little or no time for debate and little or no chance of it being voted on [1] I would have hoped that our host was employed on something a little more productive!

        [1] not being in the chamber is no bar on voting though, as long as the MP is within range of the voting lobby

  11. Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I received this yesterday and believe it is relevant to your last two postings.

    The e-petition ‘Referendum on the European Union’ signed by you recently reached 18,188 signatures and a response has been made to it.

    As this e-petition has received more than 10, 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response:
    The Government believes that membership of the EU is in the national interest of the UK.
    It is central to how we create jobs, expand trade and protect our interests around the world. The Government’s priority is dealing with the crisis in the Eurozone and making sure that the Single Market, which is one of the greatest forces for prosperity the continent has ever known and of immense benefit to this country, is not damaged.
    The crisis in the Eurozone has intensified the debate in every country on the future of Europe and there is no exception here.
    Europe is changing, and we do not know what the EU will end up looking like at the end of this crisis.
    As the Prime Minister has said, this Government believes that a choice between the status quo within the EU or leaving completely is the wrong question. But now that the European Union Act 2011 is in place the British people will have the final say, through a referendum, if any future treaty change results in a transfer of competence from the UK to the EU.
    This cannot happen without the express consent of the British people.
    The activities of the EU have expanded over time, before the coalition Government established a referendum lock, and it is important to take stock of the impact of the EU on our country.
    In line with a commitment made to the British people in the Coalition Programme for Government, the Government recently launched a review of the balance of competences between the UK and the EU to assess the EU’s impact on the UK.
    Now is the right time to take a critical and constructive look at exactly which competences lie with the EU, which lie with the UK, and whether it works in our national interest.
    The parties in the Coalition will have the opportunity to address issues such as referenda in their own manifestos at the next election.
    You may also wish to read the Prime Minister’s Statement of 2nd July 2012 on the European Council at http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/prime-ministers-statement-on-the-european-council/ This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.

    View the response to the e-petition

    Thanks,

    HM Government e-petitions http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/

    ” The Government believes that membership of the EU is in the national interest of the UK.
    It is central to how we create jobs, expand trade and protect our interests around the world.”
    Any thoughts on this John?

    • Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      This government response seems to be almost word for word the response I received from the FCO after writing to the Prime Minister. My letter had urged that our next manifesto committed us to repealing our Acts of Accession to Maastricht, Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon and that we should be using diplomacy to persuade as many Member States as possible to leave the Euro zone.

      It seems that no matter what issues are raised the same bland and ubiquitous response is given. Mr Redwood, you need to tell Messrs Cameron and Hague in the House of Commons that this simply won’t do.

  12. Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    “The Uk motor industry has been a success story in recent years.”

    I think it’s worth pausing to recognise what an major achievement that is. How many readers of this blog remember the days of the Maestro and endless strikes, poor management and general chaos and poor quality in the UK car industry.

    I remember well when Nissan came to Sunderland. Dad worked at great length with their head of personnel to set up systems of internal communication and labour relations which would make it efficient, productive and a successful employer and would overcome the issues endemic in the British car industry at that time.

    It’s wiki says: “It is the largest car plant in the United Kingdom, and the most productive in Europe.”

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Datsun ?

      • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        The people haven’t changed but the ownership has.

        Britain is terrible at ownership. And at valueing its own people. One product proves my point:

        The Snatch Landrover

        Dan Hannan says of Margaret Thatcher “She didn’t destroy British industry. She just stopped other people having to subsidise it.”

        The subsidy of people in Britain continued, in fact, to such absurd levels that we’re nearly bankrupt because of it.

        • Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          I look at the roll call of major industries, brand names and established businesses that have left Britain in the last twenty years or so and seriously wonder (having policed the Wapping dispute) at how infested they must have been with unionism. These losses were ALL post union reforms.

          How poor George Osborne would love to have the start that Mrs Thatcher’s government did.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

            Hmmm.

            I don’t think you’ve quite picked up on my point that we should take time to reflect on what we’ve done well as well as what we’ve done badly Kevin.

            “seriously wonder (having policed the Wapping dispute) at how infested they must have been with unionism.”
            That’s an interested point Kevin which could give some insight into why Michael Gove has ideas about unionism which are totally unrelated to what happens in education.

          • Posted October 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

            Rebecca – (I’m not sure this will come in sync with your comment about Wapping)

            At the time of the Maestro we were happily buying all sorts of tat from Hong Kong. Datsuns and Fords were rust buckets too.

            Lets put our productivity record into perspective.

            As for teaching unions today.

            The major problem is that the kids you’re teaching have nowhere to go when they’ve finished.

            What’s the point in a surfeit of indebted and disatisfied graduates ? (The best your profession hopes to achieve)

          • Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:34 am | Permalink

            “What’s the point in a surfeit of indebted and disatisfied graduates ? (The best your profession hopes to achieve)”

            Some of us still believe it’s important to prepare students for the society they will actually enter Kevin and we work hard to do that despite the relentless pressure from government and Ofsted not to and the punishments we face for doing so.

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      The cessation of endless strikes had a lot to do with the trade union reforms that Margaret Thatcher pushed through in the early 80s. She was very careful to use the civil law, removing many of the immunities to civil actions that trade unions had enjoyed in the past, rather than to criminalise individual trade unionists. Very smart, and exactly what was needed.

  13. Posted October 27, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Nigel Farage made a similar point namely that our lack of a coherent energy policy is leading to uncertainy with investors and may be one of the reasons the Southampton plant closed, we must leave to EU get rid of Their CO2 targets, and invest in clean coal and shale gas to lower energy costs and boost competitiveness.

  14. Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    It would be nice if the comments were 100% related to the article

  15. Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    It might become harder to sell into Oriental markets. Apart from the Japanese, the Korean Hyundai Motor Group is the fourth largest car manufacturer by volume although only having been originated in 1967. We simply cannot continue to load ourselves with unnecessary overheads dictated from the EU such as the CAGW scam if we wish for a fighting chance. Is Hyundai free to employ and promote who they want? Does it have to compete with banksters for the best engineers? Do Korean universities have an Ebdon to decide who they should recruit? It’s time to stop playing games in Westminster and grow up.

  16. Posted October 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “Modern factories are highly automated and very energy dependent. ”

    And the approved British parties voted almost unanimously for a “climate change” Act deliberately intended to make energy far more expensive and less plentiful, hence the recession.

    We could be permanently out of recession and into at least world average growth (6%) any time these politicians were interested in the wellbeing of Britain or are replaced.

    reply : I did n ot vote for this Act myself

  17. Posted October 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    If only Austin, Morris, British Leyland etc had been kept away from the jaws of the unions and the state in the 60s and 70s, imagine where some of these iconic brands could be now?

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Peter, many of the brands were killed off by mismanagement, not the unions, it was management who failed to realise that not only was their brand loyalty within the workforce but with their buyers, this reached its peak in the late 1970s when brands such as Triumph weren’t allowed to compete with Rover for example. Once this brand loyalty was broken the customer when off and looked at other makes, not just the alternate model in the BL stable, people who had bought the Triumph 2000 estate car likely went off and bought a Ford Granada estate rather than the Rover SD1 hatch-back…

      As an aside, I was told by an ex BMC R&D engineer that what became the Austin Maxi was first conceived to be a sporting hatch-back and as such would have been a world leader -remember that this was mid 1960s, it was management who changed the concept, first to a saloon and then because the accountants though, upon the creation of BLMC/BL, they could save money by reusing existing tooling (the the project had to use the doors, and thus sill and mid gutter line, from the 1800 range), for what the car became it would have been cheaper to have just offered a hatch-back version of the 1800 rather than a parallel model that didn’t create any more sales but simply just split them between the new and the existing range.

  18. Posted October 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    The comment given regarding the fall of car sales in the remainder of the EU is rather misleading. What percentage of new car sales are for fleet/business in UK and not personal purchases? Many EU countries do NOT have company cars or fleet cars such as UK. The latter I would think, forms your opinion that UK is maintaining an upward trend of sales whilst the remainder of the EU is on the downward spiral. Perhaps you might re-affirm your information percentages between the two.

    Reply These are total figures. I can’t see it matters much who is buying.

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Again I disagree, it does matter who is purchasing these vehicles. Large companies purchasing cars are the very same companies which pay no corporation taxes in the UK. Yes, it provides some work in and around our shores, but I would say a vast majority of new car sales are for cars produced in the “other” EU countries, such as Spain, France and Germany.

      Reply: What is the economic difference between a company paying an employee a higher salary so he can buy the car, or buying him a car as part of the salary?

  19. Posted October 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    According to Philp Souta, Director, Business for New Europe if we leave the EU the Japaneese will pull out of their car making factories in the UK as they will be unable to export their cars into the EU. [Newsnight, 26th October].

    Interesting.

    Reply: And also nonsense. Of course there will be arrangements to allow export to the rest of the EU, as the large German industry will want rights on access to our market.

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the reply.

      It seems that you and the Philip Souta, Business for New Europe are in total disagreement on this and, with respect, you can’t both be right.

      At the moment of course because we are in the EU we have an agreement about tariffs and import controls to the EU. Far better of course to replace this with a myriad of different agreements for different industries on different subjects -this particular one as you say concerning the German and Japaneese agreements on UK exports to EU once we are no longer a member.

      Is this agreement that expressly refer to already in place ? If so can you let me have the details and I will forward it to Mr Souta.

  20. Posted October 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    No mention yet has been made to the excellence of the design and development of cars in this country . The Royal College of Art has trained car stylists for many years and its graduates have been much in demand throughout Europe for almost 50 years ; centres for car development and design have also provided many of the models that have been manufactured in Europe over the same period . Since the 70’s the emphasis has switched towards automation and , therefore ,car production is much more dependent on design and engineering . The reason that this country has lead the world in Formula One cars is because of the background and availability of well trained Design and Development Engineers . There is also a tradition and present day skill in high quality small production cars ( Aston Martin , Morgan , Bentley , Rolls Royce , McClaren ) . It is no surprise that the UK remains one of the most important centres for the auto industry and that we have become a nett exporter . Our future success in the auto field will depend on the continued existence and emphasis placed on design and engineering in our educational system .

  21. Posted October 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    (disobliging and unproven allegations re Tata-ed)I have told you before

  22. Posted October 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    my understanding is that the ordinary voters in germany are very worried about what to do to sort out the problems in the eurozone. without any doubt they were the main beneficiaries given the euro has one exchange rate for all within it and the false optimism when it was launched enabled huge sums of money to be borrowed by the poorer nations at low rates thereby enabling a consumer spending spree on what became to them cheap german products.
    their own economies were just not geared to expand in their private sectors neither can they devalue or set their own interest rates.
    the germans know all is not well but cannot see an answer. do they look upon the euro zone as the equivalent of east germany?
    do they just muddle along from crisis to crisis?
    neither of these have much appeal to the average german yet the future of the euro lies in the hands of their government.
    there are 7 billion people in the world.
    1/2 a billion are in the EU.
    admittedly the EU had a disproportionate share of the world GDP but that proportion is shrinking all the time.
    cameron says if we leave the EU we could end up like another switzerland,whatever he means by that.
    my first 2 wives were swiss.
    when i went to switzerland in 1963 i got 12 swiss francs to the pound.
    have a look at what you get today.
    then blink and look again and check your eyes arent failing you.
    then ask if perhaps instead of being condescending like cameron was we should not be asking them how they do it.
    i could tell you but that would take too long.
    a very shortened version is that it revolves around a four letter word which they know the meaning of.
    that word?
    WORK.

  23. Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    It is good to see Land Rover doing so well. The new engine plant being built near Wolverhampton should provide a further boost (provided they have managed to secure exemptions from the carbon/energy taxes this government is so keen on). Getting permission from the state to build this new factory, close to thier existing factories, is a marked change from the circumstances of the 50s and 60s.

    In the early post war years, the Wilks brothers had the foresight to buy up land around their new facility at Solihull to enable future expansion. Unfortunately for them, they were not able to do so as they wished. In its wisdom the government restrict[y]ed expansion in the Midlands, saying that if vehicle manufacturers wanted to expand, they had to build elsewhere – Liverpool (Ford) and Scotland (BMC and Rootes) acquired factories this way. Rover declined the risk of doing this; instead they expanded through the acquisition of second hand factories acquired from other industries in and around Birmingham. Thus they kept their operations close to Solihull, but at the expense of a dispersed, small and relatively inefficient manufactruing operation. How much better had they been able to develop their Solihull site as originally intended. …Of course the government of the day knew better. – or at [k]least thought it did.

  24. Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Out here in Queensland, Australia, the tourist industry, which has been heavily supported, is also suffering as fewer and fewer Europeans are able to afford to come over. Lots of Chinese though and a few Japanese.

  25. Posted October 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    You forgot to mention the McLaren MP4, a better hypercar offering than Italy and German has!

  26. Posted October 28, 2012 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    One major problem with trying to make cars for China, India, and the rest of the emerging world is that the disposable income of these countries is low; so the cars have to be cheap in order to be affordable.

    Other problems are local competition, trying to make a car people in other nations will want to drive, and how to market this car.

    Reply: There are now manty rich people in China and India

    • Posted October 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      While there are many people in China and India that are wealthy enough to afford a car they are a small percentage of the total population. Though this percentage is likely to increase it is unlikely to increase any time soon.

  27. Posted October 28, 2012 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Do the profits that Tata make on the Range Rover qualify as foreign aid?

  28. Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    When I see the car freight carriers leave the sidings on my commute and the plant machinery in the builders yard starts to disappear as they are used then things will start to look up.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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