Blog : Is it just me, or should we…

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

…make our police forces use British cars?

Police BMW 5-series

I was trundling home along the A1 this evening heading home, when the traffic started to grind to a halt. A sea of brake lights is a not-uncommon sight on our overcrowded roads, and one which we spend too much time moaning about. But for me, the inconvenience of the stoppage was punctuated by the sound of Cambridgeshire Police sirens behind.

A glance in the mirror revealed that a police car was picking its way though the traffic to whatever accident lay ahead. As it drew alongside, blues and twos a-whaling, I was disheartened to see that  it was a BMW 5-Series Touring. I turned to my passenger and whinged a little about how it seemed off to me that our brave boys in blue should be forced to patrol our roads in a middle-manager’s special.

More than that, it seems wrong that they’re not driving a British car. It’s not as if anyone can say that we don’t produce a suitable alternative. Jaguar Land Rover will happily supply police XFs that would do the job just as effectively. And before anyone says that BMWs are more reliable than Jaguars, they should talk to your average fleet manager, or look at warranty claims. The XF is a solid, reliable motor, with pace, space and huge road presence.

In short, it is the perfect police car.

So, is it just me, or should the Government insist that police services adopt an all-UK built buying policy for their patrol cars? It not only supports our local industries and jobs, but also shows confidence in the great cars we produce here. After all, if the police use them, they’d be more than good enough for you and me.

What do you think?

PoliceXF0192-1024x662

 

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

Latest posts by Keith Adams (see all)

68 Comments

  1. I will always buy the British built option where we are able to build a competitive product (current transport a, Solihull built, Disco 4 and a Triumph Tiger 1200 from Leicestershire).

    It would be great if the police were to do the same, but for the fact that they will ultimately be buying on price. If BMW are prepared to lose substantial amounts of money on every car that they supply and service for the police, while JLR can supply their products to businesses and private users who will give a much better price, then who’s the winner?

    I’m pretty happy for BMW to subsidise our police motorcycle and car fleets. I’m not so sure it does anything for the car’s image and saleability anyway. For example, millions of years ago, the Vauxhall Senator was the police car of choice, while the civilian version bombed. Even the glorious SD1 was largely a police car in its latter years, while private purchasers looked to Germany for their cars.

  2. In the US cop cars have to be US made hence no takers for the Auzie built Caprice. Joke is the Ford Crown Victoria that is still on police fleets was built in Canada!

    • There is a police special version of the Holden Commodore VF or Chevrolet SS as it’s known there the police special version retains the Corvette V8 but has steel wheels plus a more basic interior. I think that maybe the reason it’s not sold that well to law enforcement agencies is it’s high price rather that it’s place of origin.

  3. I could not agree with you more. Just why are the police putting OUR money in foreign pockets ?

    • @christopher storey
      Can you let us know how much in extra taxes you would be prepared to pay in order that the police and other public services purchase only British made equipment regardless of suitability or cost?

      Should British manufacturers be forced to divert capacity for profitable retail and corporate business to supply government contracts at subsidised rates?

      Presumably the same logic would apply to the supply of all capital expenditure and not just cars? Are you bothered about the source of police computers, telecoms, uniforms, handcuffs, tasers?

  4. nowt wrong with Volvo’s, etc as they employ so many Brits there … and what is a Britcar … Indian, Chinese, Japanese owned, and built here … c’mon the Police need good machines from wherever …. they all don’t need to drive Allegro pandas any more. Yes its good to see a Range Rover rather than an X5 … and Q cars are another story …. its a shit job, and let them play a little in between scrapping brains off the tarmac.

  5. I don’t have a problem with EU built motors and BMW have invested in UK plants. I do however have a big problem with the old bill buying Korean built vehicles.

  6. Because the people who spend the money don’t think that way. Their view is usually that they are spending public money and that their duty is first and foremost to spend as little of it as possible. If that means a school lecturing on the evils of rainforest destruction and then saving 2p a ream by buying Brazilian made paper, or a police authority making “efficiency savings” by buying off whoever will sell for the least, then that usually secures their own jobs!

    It’s all depressingly short sighted…

  7. I don’t like to say it, but as somebody who classes themselves as British and English, patriotism counts for very little these days in my eyes, not just in Britain, but other countries with once strong values with an identity unique to them. German Police forces use Skodas as well as German built cars in the same way our police forces use, Hyundai’s, Skoda’s, BMW’s, Jaguars etc.
    Going back to the 1960’s Britain was both admired and the envy of the world, with a notion to achieve anything because anything seemed achievable, and we had a great many industries including heavy science/engineering aside from automotive manufacturing. I might have been born much later, but I get the feeling British Citizens were much more proud of their country and what it was producing back then; this before many things were nationalised/sold off or went under in the 80’s to date. These British industries are reflected in cult TV series like The Avengers which was popular with American audiences, who could see from this what Britain was capable of. Nowadays, I think aside from America, the world as a whole views us as a failed nation, who has given up with our strong, moral values that once held British manufacturing and Science in such highly prized way, not helped by politics in Westminster which apart from being corrupt, petty and undignified has had faith and belief catastrophically lost in it – The Steel industry being a recent example. Westminster prefers to be seen as European then British, so to me it’s unlikely they would agree that their own/our own police forces should drive purely British Cars. Though I think if the Prime minister or the cabinet was seen being driven around Downing Street in something other than a Jaguar or Range Rover, then it would be taboo in the minds of many and it’s more of a gimmick of the Government who think that there are still a bunch of patriotic eccentric British people who care. Personally it’s the least of Cameron’s concerns.
    And is there actually a valid reason why the police force should use British built cars? 90% of Taxis in use here are likely to be Japanese Toyotas and a cabby driver deciding his next car is not suddenly going to change his mind and buy a new British Built Astra or Jaguar XE for patriotic reasons when his 200000 mile Jap saloon has served him with nothing but refined reliability; – more likely he will buy a Japanese Car regardless of weather it is built in Burnaston, Derbyshire or Kyushu, Hokkaido. There is also the point that Britain is now one of the most multicultural society’s that it is less likely to even agree on the same things to do with our industry or car choices. Though what is interesting is whatever a car enthusiast’s ethnic background most would more likely prefer to be seen driving an Audi if they don’t already own one. To me I don’t want a German Car, not because it isn’t British, but because German cars in general are alot less reliable then we make them out. VW’s Mercs Audis are among the bottom of reliability surveys, whereas Honda and now even Hyundai are near the very top.(shock horror!)
    So maybe that’s why you see our boys in Blue Driving Hyundai I30’s and I40’s as well as NHS paramedics? I drive a Hyundai I10 and I’m more proud to drive that along with my Rover 827 coupe at weekends then any other cars out there and I can also say both are more reliable/better built then many European vehicles.

  8. As a big fan of British and German cars (I own a MGF, my late dads R8 and a BMW 5 series) I partially agree with this article but I also see this as another anti BMW rant.
    Yes, I agree that this country’s police forces should use more British build cars, and by that I also mean Hondas and Nissans, Toyotas and Vauxhall’s, which employ Thousands of workers and contribute to the economy.
    Unlike decades ago, we now live in a more globalised world and therefore the concept of a car being unique to a country has been diluted. Anyway, even if built in Britain, the profits go to foreign companies!

    The fact that more and more police forces are using Hyundays is due not only to the fact that they are reliable, but also offer a better financial deal to the police forces. Same for BMW.
    Think BMWs are unreliable? Ask the police officers themselves instead of misreading reliability surveys filled by idiot drivers that buy for badge and prestige rather than buying for passion. If the cars were that bad, then we wouldn’t be seeing them In use by the police forces up and down the country. Same for the Rover SD1, where back in the day was slated by the same Joe public that now cries for “buy British”. However, all the police officers I know that we’re on duty during the 80’s still miss those cars and how fantastic they’re were… Unreliable? When the SD1 went out of production, the Met bought a batch of them because they were that good.

  9. On the contrary I never said BMW’s are not reliable. I actually said that VW’s Mercs Audis are among the bottom of reliability surveys which is true. BMW’s perform better in reliability surveys then other German brands from what I have seen.
    As for Police Officers thinking Rover SD1s were fantastic, the truth is very different. You will find a website dedicating the fact how much the MET hated them for being unreliable with electrical gremlins, water leaks, uncomfortable driving position, woeful handling and uneconomical to run. This is largely why most of the country reverted to Ford Granadas in the late 80’s which the forces were far happier with, because this saved alot more money and the police could perform their jobs better!

    • Rubbish Charles, rubbish- on two counts- Capris and BMW reliability.
      A Bavarian joke (noting MW is Bayern Motor Werke)- is where do you find the latest BMW’s- beside the Autobahn. How to tell it’s a BMW?- the hood is up. BMW- bringen motor werkstatt- bring me to a garage. The “prestige” attributed to BMW is simply non existent in Germany as outside- BMW is seen as an Opel competitor- the German stereotype is that old esp country doctors (Arzt) is they always drive Opels. Farmer barons (bauer koenig) drive older Mercedes (they fudge their tractor subsidies having already the top of the line US-farm sized John Deer or Komatsu) , and people with money buy Porsches. Old ladies and housewives drive VW. Mercedes always been the position Rover used to be in the P5- solid Germanic values (swap out the flat cap for a Homberg/Bavarian Jaegar hat, jaegar coat for the tweed and add a longer stem to the pipe- ooh-arg me acker- there’s your solid Mittelstand Deutscher /Brit) and the SLR’s for the sports stars and WAGS visiting Germany from Switzerland (where they hide huge money). Now bear in mind- the Germans have quite the fetish for British things- especially Burberry and Barbour- the similarities between the Horsey-Country sets are amazing.
      Hot Capri- love your oxymoron- a fairly average V6 (in Australia and US- 3 litres is considered piddly) in a light, thin, shoddily spot welded (militant unionist) monocoque running crude suspension was always the next lamppost away from a double fatality- SD1’s stayed behind to mop up when the Carpis fowled up. As a former tow-truck driver (teenage and pre uni years) I can tell you it certainly was not a pretty sight after boy racers had lost control of their Cosworths, Capris and other hot shopping trolleys. Solid steering columns do nasty things to heads as well.

  10. Well, I guess we both have different sources of information, hence why our comments are different. However, they do converge on the financial aspect, which is why we have the current Fleet in our police forces. Not only Fords strengthen their position on the police forces, also apvauxhall with their omegas and Carltons had good reputation. Since the demise of the SD1, Rovers position on the police fleet diminished drastically, with only a few 800 series doing the job.

  11. The MET did still use a number of Rover 75’s and MG ZT’s in London and southern England even a short time after the collapse of MG Rover.

  12. Does it really matter anymore? We ve lost all our British owned industries over the last 15 to 20 years and as a result our country is awash with foreign goods on mass. Bolted, stable door and horse spring to mind. Patriotic fever only ever happens in our sport and when an important industry or product is just about dead and then it s too late to save.
    I ve resigned myself to that fact we are not a patriotic nation as a whole and that s the main problem.

    Buying a few so called uk built cop car s ain’ t gonna make a lot of difference. Us Brits are obsessed with anything with a German premium badge stuck on it I m afraid.

  13. I recently had a software contractor working for me who was moaning to me about me out sourcing of software development to Poland and India to support our work with the European automotive industry suggesting they should pay more to keep the work British.

    I was forced to point out to him that in the ten years I had known him, he and his wife had owned nothing but Japanese SUV’s and questioned why he felt he did not owe the same obligation to the workers at Land Rover. It’s true to say he did not appreciate this, but basically the argument back was that it was ok when it was Blue Collar jobs that were being outsourced but not ok when it was White Collar jobs.

    I do believe one of the issues for the lack of support for UK manufacturing industry, is that the political left who should have been representing the interests of the Blue Collar workers, stopped being Blue Collar many decades ago and instead have come from the public sector / funded professions such as teaching, social work and human rights law firms. As a result somebody who works on the line at Jaguar Land Rover is unlikely to share the same interests as a left wing politician and makes a product they are politically opposed to.

  14. I presume this article was intended to cause some debate which its certainly managed!

    There is a good reason for the police procurement process and why we end up with the cars we do, honestly!

    I was with the Met for 18 years, Class 1 driver and at the end of my time there “armed response”. My career spanned several generations of cars and I can say that the police priortiies were always about more than just the shiny badge on the bonnet.

    I’m old enough to remember SD1s. The Met liked them so much that they stock piled them at the end of production and carried on registering “new” ones for a couple of years afterwards! They were cheap and felt it, our cars had wind-up windows and no central locking but had the V8 engine and a manual box. They were fast by the standards of the day but often felt loose on wet roads. You had to get them pointing in the right direction before getting the power on. I also remember that they started to rust within 3-4 years and most of them were fit for nothing more than scrap or banger racing by the time they were de fleeted.

    I have absolutely no fond memories of the Rover 800. The early ones were slow and flimsy because some genius ordered 820is and the later ones were uncomfortable and unreliable. After lots of lobbying from the Police Federation the facelifted ones all came with aircon but this would almost inevitably go u/s at the first hint of a hot day and this was at the same time we were starting to have to wear stab proof vests. The seats also collapsed over time. The V6 engine was fast enough but had to be wound up, it was not a car to make comfortable progress in without trying. I was delighted when the last of them were defleeted in the early 2000s.

    We moved into Vauxhall Omegas, which were great when they were new thanks to auto boxes and working air con! Not the fastest of cars, but big and tough. However, although Vauxhall was seen as being British and the Astras and Vectras we also ran on the fleet were made in the UK, our Omegas were all made in Germany so I’m not sure what that tells us. They got very baggy as they got older and there started to be a competition in trying to find (and stick to) a “good” one. The Astras were tough but the Vectras were generally horrible thanks to a very hard ride and uncomfortable seats. (Always a key “Plod” priority when you are spending eight hours a day in a car!)

    The Met moved onto BMW 5 series at the end of my time with them. These were E39 530ds and were initially reserved for elite units, including SO19, so I managed to get into them. I can honestly say that they were a complete revelation compared to anything we had run before. Fast without the need to thrash them, extremely comfortable and with outstanding reliability. After I’d left I heard that turbos started to go, but these were on cars that were doing up to 50,000 miles a year and would often be left idling for hours at a time. Yes there was a “posh” badge on the front, but the crucial thing about the 5 series was that it would deliver us quicker and fresher than almost anything else. The extra cost of a £45,000 or so car over a £30,000 one over three to five years and hundreds of thousands of miles is insignificant.

    Speaking to colleagues on other forces the Volvo V70 enjoyed a similar reputation for comfort, speed and reliability.

    The problem with any sort of “Buy it because its British” or “Buy it because its cheap” approach is that you deny yourself a free choice from what is best on the market. Remember when Humberside Police were made to buy Protons on cost grounds? Lots of bitter coppers complaining about both unreliability and the inability to respond as quickly as they had managed in diesel Astras! I also remember a senior colleague in the former West Midlands police telling me just how unreliable their P38 Range Rovers had been, they were getting them basically for free so they could be used to help development!

    Besides, although the 5 series and X5 are not made in Britain it’s not like BMW does not have lots of investment here and thousands of jobs tied up in UK manufacturing. I notice that BMW is now one of the main suppliers to the government chauffeur fleet alongside JLR which is presumably for that reason.

    Buying a British car made by a company belonging exclusively to British investors would limit you to a Morgan or a Caterham!

  15. The problem is the government put in place short term cost savings which eventually come and back fire. If British built cars – be it a Honda, Nissan or a Jag, were purchased then this would help British jobs, which in turn would create additional income for the economy. Unfortunately the penny pinching started in the 1980s under Maggie T and subsequent governments have followed suit. What should have been done is the pooling of the police, as well as the NHS, Fire and Schools, to purchase equipment needed using the massive financial power it has. Instead we have each police force, fire service etc etc having their own buying teams and trying to skimp on cheap alternatives instead of mass purchasing by a smaller more efficient team.

    As for the cars – the SD1 was known to be a nightmare for police with unreliability and the inability to keep up with even hot capris. The Hyuandis that are being used have been called awful by officers I know, who miss their Focuses and Astras, and have called them flimsy and unreliable too.

  16. I completely agree, all uk ‘Public services’ should be forced to buy locally produced vehicles, as mentioned above we have plenty of locally produced vehicles that are more than up for the job; Astra, Jag XF & XE, Discovery 4, Nissan Qashqai to name a few. Go to France or Germany their police forces have ALWAYS used locally made vehicles. You will all remember the scenes at Longbridge (after Tony and his cronies refused to assist MG Rover with a bridging loan) when the police rocked up in BMWs & Peugeots to keep the peace at the demonstrations to save MG Rover – they got such a bad reception from the redundant workers that they quickly retreated and found some Rover 75s to return in. 10 years ago.

  17. It’s not just the police cars. Most of the NHS emergency ambulance fleets are now made up of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.

    Luton-manufactured Vauxhall Vivaros anyone??

  18. Keith, I have been saying the same for years. Glad you have caught up.
    The same goes for Mayors’ official cars. Our district council uses an E class. Being in Warwick we can’t be much closer to the heart of the motor industry.
    I think BMW have been claiming UK manufacturer status via their Mini and Rolls Royce operations but I still don’t look upon them as one.

  19. My understanding is that public supply contracts need to be competitively tendered, and above 200,000 Euros advertised in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU). AFAIK patriotic discrimination is illegal in these situations.

    I also seem to recall Brussels slapping wrists of a number of local authorities in the 1980s for requiring minicabs in their area to be of British manufacture.

  20. Quite agree… up in Northumbria the Police now use BMW, Audi and some Corsa’s and Astra’s. I recall the Russian Police in St Petersberg using Focus Saloons which I understand are built there.

    Would be great if more UK Police forces used Jags etc.

  21. Don’t the Police like RWD for their high speed patrol work? Hence, once the SD1 went out of production, they shifted to RWD Senators etc

    And while it would be nice to see more British Police cars, FORCING them to buy British would be a dubious move. Besides, Land Rover (especially) are expensive and prestigious vehicles these days, with a price tag to match, it’s entirely understandable the police wanting to buy something cheaper!

  22. I’ve believed this for a long time. Between them, Vauxhall and JLR could provide a comprehensive range of cars from the humble panda (Astra) to pursuit vehicles and offroaders (JLR).
    Unfortunately as others have said subsidy and watching the pennies is more important to the bean counters in today’s world, so it’s unlikely to happen any day soon 🙁

  23. “In the US cop cars have to be US made hence no takers for the Auzie built Caprice.”

    US police cars are selected by the individual force/government at the municipal, state, or federal level. Except for governments that serve auto manufacturing plants, no one cares anymore about imports.

    The Caprice PPV is about 15 percent more expensive than the comparable V8/turbo V6 Ford and Dodge police cars, and it isn’t AWD. It’s expected to end production next year, so it’s a dead end for fleets. The bigger the fleet, the less attractive the Caprice is, especially in northern cities with snow.

    The Holden-sourced civilian Chevrolet SS doesn’t sell much, either.

  24. As one of the earlier messages said European procurement rules do affect what you can and cannot buy so a simple ‘buy British’ approach is not legal.

    Also some companies offer great deals such as BMW who will do a lot to keep the met police as their biggest single user fleet customer globally and make the money by managing when they hit the used market.

    In the UK foreign police cars have been used since the 1960s with most of the Granadas and all of the Senators, Carltons, Omegas and Focuses being sourced from overseas

  25. I was living in Coventry in 1990 and the standard issue patrol car was a Rover Maestro diesel, clearly West Midlands Police were keen to support a West Midlands product, and a few years earlier on the M5 I saw a WMP Jaguar XJ6 in use, a car produced in the same force area. I would be interested to know what the force use now, and would hope Jaguar Land Rover feature.
    Also going back even further, my local plod ditched their rather hopeless Mini panda cars for Vauxhall Chevettes, another British product, but more reliable and practical with simple mechabicals.

  26. Gentil you say ask the police themselves, well I am one. We use a mixture of JLR products and also the dreaded BMW. The BMW 530,s we use spend more time being repaired than any other car on our fleet. The argument of cost is a negative one,yes the BMW is cheaper but more expensive to maintain. They handle poorly can’t keep pace with the offenders car and after a 12 hour shift are uncomfortable. The JLR products are none of these. As a result our force is slowly phasing ot the German brand and wholly moving to the British one.

  27. I am qualified to answer this question because
    1. I am a retired traffic police officer
    2.I have experienced all sorts of police vehicles and used them in anger
    So, when I joined in 92, South Wales police had Peugeot 309 Pandas. They replaced them with Escort Diesels, they were slow noisy and generally crap.Then I went to Lancashire where we had Maestro 1.3 pandas. Metro CID cars and LDV 200 section vans and 400 V8 riot. vans. We had Rover 827 traffic cars. Without exception, none of the Rover group cars and vans were mechanically robust enough, the trim fell apart, the floors rotted out of the vans. The engines, especially the 825 V6s seized with alarming regularity and clutches exploded. They just werent suitable for purpose.
    The LDV400s ate fuel pumps, the brakes were poor bordering dangerous braking form 100mph with 16 hairy arsed riot cops on board. In 97 they changed to Mk3 Astras and they were a revelation, Vectra V6s and Omegas became traffic cars and whilst not good, they held up better than the Rovers. Lancs ordered Macneillies coachbuilders to build new LDV400 riot vans on the diesel platform, and when delivered they were overweight whilst unladen. Merc Sprinters were used instead and were light years ahead. The LDV200s fell over in corners, had no brakes of note and rotted. Transits replaced them as prisoner Transport vans.
    If the British motor industry did as they do in the US and purpose built a police range of vehicles, like they did with a purpose built taxi, the FX series, then maybe all forces could and should buy British.

  28. Splitting my youth between the Cumbria and Northumbria police areas, there were differences in what each force used. Cumbria seemed to favour British Leyland and Ford for their panda cars( usually Metros and Escorts) and Granadas for traffic, Northumberland liked Vauxhall Chevettes for pandas and favoured a mixture of Rover SD1s and Granadas for traffic.

  29. Many American forces used Ford Crown Victorias, which were also popular as taxis.

    They were very basic under the skin but I guess robust enough to cope.

    Even after private sales ended there was enough demand to keep them in production.

  30. A perticularly interesting response from Rob.

    A good friend and colleague has been a serial BMW purchaser for many years, currently driving a very nice looking 2011 520d M Sport. It’s “camchain for life” has just snapped at 90,000 miles. The cacmchain is not a service item and the engine has to be removed from the car for access. The repair is so expensive that it’s dubious if a repair is viable.

    It turns out that the Internet is awash with N47 engined BMW’s with camchain failures and eye watering repair bills! BMW’s response has been shockingly unhelpful and arrogant.

    I’m going to look at a 15,000 mile old XF 2.2 for him this morning….

    • We now have the result. After nearly 20 years is serial BMW ownership, the remains of his 4 year old 520d M Sport have just been towed off his drive and loaded onto a low loader by a trader that specialises in buying “problem cars”. He should pick up the XF on Saturday….

      He’s just received a letter from his local BMW dealer asking him to come and talk to him about trading his car in for a new BMW. His letter decking their kind offer and requesting that his name be removed from their mailing list was priceless!

  31. It’s a bit ironic considering some forces switched to BMW’s as they were more reliable than anything the British industry had to offer….

  32. It is possible to equip a police force with British vehicles: they could use an Astra Tourer as a panda car, Vivaro as a van, Land Rover Discovery for rougher terrain and Jaguar XFs for traffic and interceptor work. I’m sure all of these would be cheaper to maintain and as reliable as BMW.

  33. Morgan’s and Nobles all round to be truly British. I’ve always thought it would be right and proper for British Police to use British vehicles, as a law abiding citizen I think a police Jag would be a fine sight, but economics must prevail, provided a Hyundai does the job then if it’s cost effective they should use them.

  34. Greg 70
    My local ambulance service used Ford for decades, then about five years ago switched to a mixture of Fiat and Mercedes. I’d imagine Fiat would have probably offered them the cheapest quote, but if their cars are anything to go by, they’ll spend plenty of time being repaired. Also surely a Vivaro can be converted for paramedic work?

  35. IMHO -tuppence worth- real Vauxhall and Ford are and always will be rubbish- and anything Japanese is far better, far more reliable being mechanically conventional with a massive (much larger) parts base and run on the smell of an oily rag. Exclude the fact many Fords are rebadged Mazda’s and Nissans and same for GM-Vauxhall viz-a-vis Toyota BUT they ALWAYS had massive discounts and very favourable credit terms with built-in maintenance plans (their dealerships only, of course) plus breakdown service for corporate and government fleet contracts- but you will find Mercedes and BMW are NOW able to match or beat- hence the German cars dominating the corporate and government fleets. It’s about money- take it from someone who works in corporate who has to occasionally (revulsion dry wretch) deal with bureaucrats. In the US- Ford Crown Vics and Chev Camaros compete as “black and whites” as the terms (I include political) offered by Ford GM are unbeatable.
    For the UK to have viable industry of any kind- having seen much of the developing world- the UK needs a major mentality shift. In short- UK must emulate Germany in order to beat it- or the two unions co-operative with management (German boards of directors has one labour rep), cheap electricity, lower taxation and much much less bureaucracy.
    If UK does not have a major mass mentality shift- which thank God we see occurring among the youth unhappy their lives will bbe worse than their parents- a lot of post 1970s UK must be discarded- financial corporate dependant welfare statism (proving to be financially unworkable), militant unionism, leftist socialist feel-good PC tripe combined with environmental puritanism. Labour and Tory both need purging- full of pampered fools who’ve never worked a day in their life. Nu Lay-bore especially needs the Beechham pills with its Mondeo man soft nanny-statism. Real Labour (Old Labour) like Foot etc- enormous respect for- but Scargill-like militancy burned potential UK industrial investors to this day. Thatcher was an idiot too, too stupid to understand she was selling the family silver for pennies to the pound.
    Consder too, the fact that most large Japanese, French and German business state subsidised/patronised and very well sheltered by their goverments- ergo partially state-owned/patronised. This is not the UK case.
    Consider too, in China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Vietnam, etc- there are many very large state-owned manufacturers (Shanghai Motors being one, DongFeng many others having huge state holdings)- who do joint-ventures with large companies such Toyota, GM etc- to make cars or complete knock-down units often with full tech transfer. They are managed by external management and commonly externally audited. When State Owned Enterprises lack capital- they borrow from the state banks at favourable terms who issue a minority share as bonds to the financial markets. It’s an intriguing system which works.
    This isn’t socialism at all- it’s state capitalism- and these countries NEED capital to feed/house/cure/teach their populace- it has to be created as they lack our US-UK large private capital sources. So, financial viability is of prime concern. Evidently, long-held impractical and unworkable fundamental concepts of economics require re-evaluation in the US and UK and I would argue we are halfway there with a lot of the youth being influenced by the wisdom of the Locke’s and Adam Smiths of our day being revisited by the US Libertarian movement (ironically, but not surprisingly based on UK’s own thinkers- consider the industrial revolution etc and the rise of UK as a major power was intricately linked to these thinkers).

  36. A look through the OJEU will soon show you that blaming it on EU rules is misleading.
    Broadly speaking in OJEU the purchases defines what they want and those who can supply it may submit a bid. If you want a white XF 3.0s with a blue light on the top that is what you ask for. There is no need to define your needs so broadly that other cars can fit in. With some tenders there is the opportunity to submit non compliant bids.

  37. DavidW – in addition you can make the bid under 200,000 euros and stipulate British manufacturer of the vehicle and not fall foul of EU rules. Many local councils use this rule setting the upper limit of a contract at below the threshold and then issuing it out to tender which they still have to do (that’s UK government rules), but then offering it several times to tender as different contracts. For example Met Police could offer a contract for 10 cars at under 160k, but then offer the same contract again with slight different wording. Its how many French and German local governments get round the issue of buying national products.

  38. BMW employs 1000 making 4 cylinder engines and components near Birmingham, in addition to the MINI and R-R operations in the UK.

    In a sense, they’re as British as JLR products.

    The investments made in the UK by Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Vauxhall and SAIC/MG Rover, make them in a sense ‘British’.

    Good points have been made by others about giving the police what they need, value for money and the practicality of extending this ‘buy British’ across all police procurement.

  39. The police should be only driving UK produced vehicles without a doubt.

    It promotes our car industry to the wider public, it would help the economy by providing more jobs and I feel it is very disloyal to the motor industry in this country when you see vehicles such as Skoda (Hampshire Police) patrolling our roads.

    As has been already said products from Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Vauxhall, Honda and MINI could provide all the police vehicle needs.

    The fact supporting UK produced vehicles is supposedly against European rules does not stop the French police nearly always driving Peugeots or the Italians FIAT group products.

    I am not sure who to raise this issue with. My local MP Maria Miller (Basingstoke) appeared to be totally disinterested when I wrote to her about this some time ago, so could this now come under the remit of the elected Police Commissioners ?

    • Ironically Hampshire police were one of the first forces to buy imported cars when they bought some Volvo Amazons in the mid 1960s.

      Even the “Buy British” campaign a few years later was found to have had is promotional bags made in Portugal!

  40. Yes, I think the Buy British policy used to work very well indeed. It extended the production lives of Bedford HA vans, Commers and Morris Minor vans way beyond their natural commercial shelf life. And then what happened ? Be careful what you wish for.

    I worked with a guy in the 1980 who specified and purchased our commercial fleet. He had a buy British-policy and I challenged him on this as the equivalent Mercs and Volvos cost less to run and were more attractive to the drivers. He felt he was protecting British jobs but couldn’t see that he was actually jeopardising them by accepting their inferior products which would be unsustainable in the long run, not to mention jeopardising his own colleagues’ jobs by making our business slightly less competitive through higher operating costs and less reliable equipment.

  41. @ Cliff, I can’t remember any Bedford HAs being used by the police, but plenty of local authorities and British Rail and the GPO used to swear by them, as these elderly small vans were reliable and very cheap to run. It must prove something as they had a lifespan of 20 years.

  42. @Glenn Aylett – very true, but while these throwbacks were being churned out at a very cheap price (that’s really why LAs and utilities loved them) our motor industry failed to move with the times. The rest is history. There’s a link here with the Soviet era Ladas. A captive market removes the need to innovate and improve.

  43. I overtook a (Hampshire?)Skoda Yeti police car the other day on the A303.

    I can imagine why the Police would choose such a vehicle, the only British made alternative would be the Honda CR-V, though production of that at Swindon will end soon.

  44. I was thinking “but we don’t really build a suitable ‘Panda’ car in the UK”. Then I thought “but you don’t really see the local Bobby in his/her Panda car much anymore anyway”. Times have changed.

    Round here (on the Wirral) I see the odd Police Hyundai driving around as Maestros and Mini vans once did!!

  45. Somehow, I don’t see MINI as a modern day “Panda” – the cost alone. More pose than practical.

  46. @ Cliff, the HA was probably well past its sell by date when the Chevanne arrived, but was kept alive by the public sector as it was cheap and fairly reliable( also gaining the 1256cc Viva engine and a more modern interior made it more bearable). However, the Commer was a horrible vehicle that deservedly died under Renault ownership, it was very slow, had terrible handling and was loathed by those who had to drive it.

  47. @Richard16378 – you’re almost correct, they were Chevette Estates with side windows blanked out by removable panels.

    Then they replaced the Chevettes with Metro HLEs. The engineers weren’t happy bunnies ! But the upside was a number of the staff at our dealership were dead chuffed when they got a 3yr old Chevette at trade price.

  48. Did any police forces use Chevannes, as they would have been quite useful with a huge load space and had far more modern driving characteristics than the HA, which I never saw used by the police( possibly lack of power, poor handling and relatively small load space ruled it out)?

  49. Having had a mini tour of a few European countries, I noticed that in Italy you’re more likely to see the police in Audis (a shame since last time I visited Italy they were driving 159s and surprisingly fitting unmarked Lancia Thesis mk1) and in Spain you’re likely to see local police in Citroens (though there is a PSA factory in Spain).

    France though still seemed to use local products – 308 panda cars and surprisingly good looking facelift black 508s as ‘unmarked’ cars.

    RUC/PSNI I don’t recall driving Rovers, memories of bulletproofed Fords (Sierras – of which I can remember officers holding open the door on a hot day on a motorway run – presumably no AC and no winding bulletproof windows, Granadas) and Vauxhalls (Carltons, Vectras) as well as the obvious heavily armoured Land Rovers. Traffic branch uses a lot of Discoverys, seem to be phasing out the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport – a vehicle of which overturned and caught fire a few years ago unfortunately fatally trapping it’s occupants. Their main fleet now seems to consist of Skodas, Audis and Astras.

  50. Here in the States, the BMW X3 is made in Spartanburg, South Carolina and brought back to Germany where they are outfitted for patrol
    by the Bavarian polizei for use in forested areas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*