Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another one bites the dust

In another hit to the British manufacturing sector, Peugeot is closing a plane in Coventry, and laying off 2300 jobs. That's a shame for all those who work there, and have worked there for so long. I must give credit to Peugeot for at least giving the workers plenty of notice. Seems there's not much auto manufacturing left in the UK, and again, why is the UK so unprofitable for automotive manufacture? Peugeot is claiming that they can make a car cheaper in Paris by a fairly decent margin over the UK plant, which I'm having a hard time to swallow.
Well, if my personal experience is any indication, build quality is a big one killing it. I spent the beginning of last week after I got back from California installing some wiring in a brand new LDV van we are going to be using for a breakdown service. I saw poor panel quality, mis- aligned panels, poor welds (I actually broke one with little effort - oops), the hood catch had stuck and so getting it up required breaking the spot welds on the hood and destroying the hood latch, and so forth and so on. In asking the head of our LDV department if what I saw was typical, he regaled me with more horror stories. I have also seen pictures of Rover engine parts with castings so poor they look like they were cast in the days of Henry Ford.
I think it's a crying shame that these factories are closing, and that the British auto industry is suffering this way, but the seeds were sown for this a long time ago, and the people that mattered, namely, the managers, businessmen, and politicians that could have changed it left their heads stuck in the sand for the rest of it to founder. It's a shame to let the poor workers who worked hard there suffer for the consequences, but it's too late now.

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