“It’s clear that this was – and still is – the year of Britain”

Mike Rutherford mulls over the recent changes to the UK motor industry and thinks that the future looks bright

Opinion: Britain

As the end of a 2017 beckons, it’s clear that this was – and still is – the year of Britain, Brits and Brit cars. The UK punched above its weight yet again. And even in the face of unprecedented political hostility towards the motor industry, Britain retained its colossal array of manufacturers. Not bad for a tiny place that’s very much part of Europe. 

Remember – we’re not surrendering our status as a leading European country, we’re merely leaving the club. True, year-on-year sales are down. But on a more positive note, it’s great to see so many firms successfully selling hybrids in Britain in 2017 and beyond. 

Best electric cars on sale

This tried and tested, affordable tech now serves as a vital stopgap because the major shift from conventional combustion engines to all-electric vehicles is still years if not decades away for the majority of consumers spending their own cash. 

This was also the year JLR arrived proper. Apart from collecting the coveted World Car of the Year and World Car design gongs for F-Pace, JLR blessed us with a credible all-new Discovery and sublime Velar, in addition to opening order books for the E-Pace, the all-electric I-Pace, plus the PHEV Range Rovers. JLR is Britain’s biggest car maker and the flavour of the month, the year, the decade.

As undisputed UK no. 1, it’s inspired Aston Martin to blossom in terms of credibility, products and factory outlets. And with McLaren launching yet another fine new road car and the triggering of Infiniti production at Sunderland, all the above are in rude health. Also, what’s not to like when Honda, Nissan and Toyota factories still sit happily on our turf, rather than on the soil of mainland Europe?

Best plug-in hybrid cars on sale

The future looks brighter for Lotus, too. If Geely of China does for its latest adoptee what it’s just done for Volvo, the firm should finally realise its enormous potential and fully exploit its legendary badge. 

The buoyant BMW/MINI duo exit 2017 better placed than most to score on the EV front thanks to superb existing and near-future models like the i3 and MINI E. The latter, if the range and price is right, is surely destined to become Britain’s best-selling all-electric car. That’d be logical. It’d mean fierce competition between Nissan Sunderland and MINI Cowley – with consumers the main beneficiaries of the imminent Leaf vs MINI E war. That’s the way it should – and will – be. Let battle commence.

Which would you choose between the MINI E and Nissan Leaf? Let us know in the comments below.

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020