Does it re­ally mat­ter where a car is built?

Auto Express - - This week - GRA­HAM HOPE Ed­i­tor Gra­ham_hope@den­

IS it im­por­tant where a car is built? It’s a par­tic­u­larly per­ti­nent ques­tion to ask this week, when our cover star is the E-pace (above) – the first ever Jaguar not to be pro­duced in the UK. It’s set to be man­u­fac­tured in Graz in Aus­tria.

Also fea­tur­ing in our is­sue is the Lynk & Co 01, an SUV that will be sold glob­ally by Volvo’s owner Geely but made in China. That would have set the alarm bells ring­ing for many a decade ago, but ed­i­tor in chief Steve Fowler tells me he was mas­sively im­pressed with the car’s qual­ity when he went for an ex­clu­sive ride around the streets of Gothen­burg.

At the same time I was in Morocco at a Da­cia plant that has pro­duced a mil­lion cars in five years. Buy­ers in Spain, France and Ger­man buy San­deros from there in their thou­sands, with no quib­bles. I asked Da­cia’s com­meri­cial di­rec­tor François Mar­i­otte, an ex­pe­ri­enced Re­nault Group man, why the com­pany had cho­sen to man­u­fac­ture cars there.

His re­sponse was in­stant. “The qual­ity of the car is never de­ter­mined by the coun­try it’s built in. It’s de­ter­mined by the pro­cesses we put into the fac­tory.” And yet you don’t need to ven­ture too far on­line to find the ar­gu­ment be­ing put for­ward that the new E-pace isn’t a “real Jag” be­cause it won’t be built here.

Like many of you, I would pre­fer it if the Jag was made in the UK. Bri­tain has proven it­self to be great at pro­duc­ing cars, and it would mean more jobs. But as Jaguar doesn’t have the ca­pac­ity, it won’t be. What I can’t ac­cept, though, is the sug­ges­tion it will be in any way in­fe­rior be­cause of this. Jaguar sim­ply won’t al­low it. And it won’t harm sales, ei­ther.

Be­cause as Mar­i­otte can­didly told me: “A lot of con­sumers have no idea where their cars are built. So it’s never an is­sue.” That’s the bru­tal re­al­ity which will en­sure we can ex­pect more cars to come from pre­vi­ously un­likely lo­ca­tions in fu­ture.

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