By Anthony Harris
While the motor industry continues to hope for some relief in the Budget, the situation with ten days to go is that many models are in short supply for home and export markets, in spite of still sluggish sales at home. This is largely, although not entirely, the result of labour disputes in the industry and among its suppliers…
…British Leyland is not so bothered by its customers, with stock of some 100,000 cars for the home market in the Austin-Morris volume car division – described by the comapany as “our planned level.” However, Minis are still in short supply, both for the home market and to meet the still rising demand from European export markets.
Stocks of the entire Triumph range, heavilly depleted during the 13 week dispute at Liverpool, are very low, and in the American market there is a famine of TR6s – the company’s larger sports car. “We are going flat out to fill back orders, but even before the strike we found it hard to keep up with U.S demand for this model,” a spokesman for Triumph told me yesterday.
Jaguar’s XJ6 remains far behind potential demand, as it has been since the model was announced. The permanent night shift in Coventry has now raised production of this model to 500 a week, and a little more production may yet be squeezed out, but only a major expansion could meet demand.
“We could double production and sell them in our sleep if we had the capacity,” according to Jaguar. XJ6’s are rationed in all markets.
In spite of these problems, the British Leyland group was yesterday able to announce all-time record sales in the American market. In the first three months of the year the five British Leyland marques achieved sales of 17,957 – almost exactly 2,000 above the previous record, set in 1959. This figure was 25 per cent higher than than that achieved in the corresponding period last year.
The bulk of sales are of sports models, and would have been still higher had adequate supplies of TR6s been available. The Austin America, a specially adapted version of the 1300, is also increasing its sales.
Altogether the group hopes to sell 80,000 cars in America this year, compared with 68,000 last year. Present volumes show a considerably bigger proportionate increase.