By GILES SMITH
The share of the British car market won by British Leyland’s new and much publicized Maxi , production of which will be cut back for the second time in a month later this month, dropped to less than 2.5 per cent in the three months following its April launch it was understood last night.
Maxi models are estimated to have had a 3.3 per cent share of the May market, 2.5 per cent in June, and 2.4 per cent in July. Indications are that sales in August are most unlikely to climb above the July figure. Leyland said last night that this had nothing to do with the production reduction at its Oxford plant and claimed the group had always been aiming at a 2 per cent initial ” market share figure.
But sales of the new car, one of the most publicised and heavily prepared launches by the group’s Austin Morris division, have clearly been a disappointment to the company’s executives. It is understood the group was thinking in terms of a minimum market share of 5 per cent, possibly rising to 7 or 8 per cent; no company would seriously consider a launch of the size and cost of the Maxi’s if it were not aiming at a market well above 5 per cent.
Leyland confirmed over the weekend that output of the Maxi at Oxford, originally intended to be 2,000 a week, but now some 1600 a week. would be cut back to 1300 when the plant reopens on September 29. The company said the cutback, involving short time working, was due to difficulties in getting bodies for the Maxi from Pressed Steel Fisher.
STANDARD TRIUMPH NEWS
Three car unions go to DEP
By BERNARD PRATT
Talks are to take place this morning at the Department of Employment and Productivity to attempt to solve one of two disputes which have caused 10,000 car workers in the Midlands and on Merseyside to be laid-off . Representatives of three unions with members on unofficial strike at the Standard-Triumph plant at Hunts Cross, Liverpool , will meet the department’s chief conciliation officer, Mr Conrad Heron.
He wants details of the strike of 1,100 workers , which has led to the laying-off of 300 men in the adjoining paint and trim shop and a further 6,500 at plants in Coventry and Birmingham. Production of most Standard – Triumph vehicles is affected. The employers have already given a report to the department.
The strike is now in its third week and a total of 12,000 workers could eyentually be made idle. The dispute is over pay, and ,ironically , a demand for protection from the effects of disputes in other parts of the car industry.