Author: Mike Ochonma
Although Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Britain is gone, the memories of her impact in the British automotive industry will remain eternal in the annals of history both within the country and at the global stage at large.
The iron lady made important changes in Britain’s auto industry along the time, which had a great importance for the nation’s economy. In the 1980s, Japanese automakers started building assembly plants in the UK, beginning with Nissan in 1986 with its Sunderland plant. This was the first Japanese plant in Europe and it was all due to her effort.
The greatest changes were brought in the luxury-car companies as Thatcher decided in 1989 to allow foreign ownership of British carmakers, starting with Jaguar. A few weeks later, Ford spent $2.5 billion ($4.6 billion in today’s money) to get its hands on Jaguar, while GM acquired 50% of Saab.
In 1994 the Rover Group has been bought by BMW and then sold to Ford, becoming part of the Premier Automotive Group, with Volvo and Aston Martin. Eventually Ford sold all the brands, which are Aston martin, Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar. If Jaguar would have managed to be as an independent company, maybe Volvo and Land Rover would have had the possibility to do the same.
And if so, the 1990s would have been a lot different, but the British and Swedish governments chose the careers which had to be made and the deals which had to be done. Small luxury-car companies would have had a chance if they partnered with larger companies, would have flourished and become more than just subsidiaries.