Originally posted by: pc100
To begin, the UK car industry behemoth that became BMC Holdings came about from a recognised need by all parties to reach economies of scale and pool resources; with vital areas such as body tooling being gobbled up many firms joined in the combine to retain their body supplies
Increasing economies of scale was one of the cornerstones of creating BL but is it safe to conclude that combining the car manufacturers was badly implemented by failing to discard the 'bad' parts of each individual company in the quest of obtaining the 'good' parts of each individual company?
If you consider the components suppliers to the industry, then it is to some extent valid that they share some of the burden as many parts were of poor quality. However, the car manufacturers cannot escape the spotlight as they signally failed to work propoerly with their supplier partners to sort out many fundamental issues in quality control - which the Japanese identified as an important part of the development cycle.
Lucas the prince of darkness!
I'm not very knowledgeable about the quality of the products of the components suppliers and their relationship with car manufacturers although I previously raised the question and the question about the Rover 800 using foreign electronic parts. Did BL / Rover have too much loyalty towards certain suppliers of low or invariable quality components (on the grounds they they were British, always supplied the company etc.) and were reluctant to buy higher quality parts from elsewhere. I am vaguely aware that some foreign car manufacturers (Volvo?) used many parts from British manufacturers so some of them must have been of good quality.
To look at the tie-up with Honda as being only good or bad is disingenuous.
Could Rover have produced cars similar in design and quality to the 200 / 400 and 800 during the early 90s without the Honda partnership? It became clear by 1988ish that the Maestro and Montego were ageing products with falling sales but would Rover have managed to create modern and competitive replacements for them? Would a 'reskinned' SD1 have been as good as the 800?
On the other hand, would Rover have created new cars in house or even kept Triumph alive?
However, this partnership gives us arguably one fo the few times where we can compare a British and Japanese product on equal terms, this being the Project XX, which became the 800. For ARG it was a model that was very nearly a disaster, with a multitude of quality issues that cost the company dearly and scuppered the return to the US market. For Honda, it was a good car from launch.
You are wrong here. The original Honda Legend was not up to the standards expected from an executive car, the suspension being a prominent example, and most of the design faults made their way through to the Rover 800. Sales of the original Honda Legend were low in Europe, so few people have experience of it, meaning that Rover ended up taking the flack for bad design from Honda. Invariable build quality of the Rover 800 and problems with the 2 litre engine were the fault of Rover rather than that of Honda.
On the bad side, the partnership became increasingly one-sided, particularly when ARG was owned by BAE, and the company had little freedom to create cars that differed from the Honda sibling; the 400/ 600 models being a prime example here.
Were the buyers concerned about this. Consumers are usually interested in buying good products rather than different products.
Hurtling forwards to BMW (which the dealer principle friend of mine described at the time as "a massive mistake"), the catalogue of mistakes and disasters is in retrospect makes for grim reading. For what is a very powerful company that enjoys monumental success, BMW frankly made a complete pig's ear of owning Rover.
When the news reached me that BMW had bought Rover I wondered why they wanted that company and how buying it could benefit them.
So what did kill the British car industry? Everything and nothing. The unions were very much a part of its demise, but successive Governments handled the industry terribly. Management were similarly culpable, but the entire culture and willingness to truly compete was missing in all areas. The industry is in many ways a mirror of the industrial malaise that afflicted this country over the last fifty years, and which I am far from convincved we have even begun to try and shake off. That this country has manufacturing plants owned by Honda, Toyota and BMW, all turning out high-quality product, is perhaps the most compelling evidence available that the closing of Rover can't be pinned down on one group, but on everyone involved.
A question that has circulated throughout certain (mainly nationalist) political circles for over 20 years is whether the attitude and culture of the British people is a significant factor in the demise of British manufacturing industries - certainly in relation to that of Japan and other European countries. Another noteworthy point (sometimes used as a counterargument) is that immigration over the past 40 or so years does not appear to have done anything to benefit or revive British manufacturing industries.