Manufacturing in the UK


Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 3, 2009
Harrow, Middlesex
(Part 2 from elsewhere)

I don't necessarily believe ALL that I rant about. I'm glad enough that there's a welfare state - I just wish it were not so full of loopholes. I concede that some of the indigenous population have nothing to be proud of when it comes to a work ethic, and also that many (perhaps most) immigrants are hard-working and make a valuable contribution to our society.

Partly as a result of my travels abroad, though, I am concerned that we seem to be such a soft option. Those who want to leave less amenable parts of the world seem to favour the UK above all other countries, and I don't think it's because we're especially friendly to foreigners. Look at the queues at Calais to stow away on trucks bound for the UK....

Back on the subject of manufacturing in the UK, we're in a difficult position when it comes to competing with China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan - etc. We can't compete on cost. Even the major car manufacturers here are all foreign owned and are more assemblers than manufacturers - there are tax advantages in shipping in sub-modules and minimising the actual rework which gets done here. Lots of automation and minimal labour.

I can't see bringing in frames, wheels, motors, controllers, batteries, etc. being much help if China revalue their currency. If they have a labour shortage their costs will rise to some extent, but there is little chance that they would rise to the point where we could be competitive as manufacturers, and there isn't a huge amount of assembly work needed to put an e-bike together. I could be wrong but I suspect that it's the components which cost the money rather than the assembly in the case of any bicycle.

If you think about it - you could get all the tools you need and assemble a bike in your kitchen from a box of bits without a huge amount of mechanical knowledge. You can't do that with a car. We haven't gone too far from the days when a cyclist would expect to be able to do that kind of thing.



Esteemed Pedelecer
Feb 2, 2008
<rant mode on>

As i see it, it all comes down to innovative technologies. New ways to do old things, or radically new things to do. We've stop doing that, or so it seems.

Granted there are a few exceptions, that Dyson fellow with his horrible looking, but highly efficient vacs, for one.

Over the years we've had a few 'inventors' championed, as much as to say 'look we can still do it' but they are the exceptions rather than the rule.

There was that bloke who designed the IPod, he was a Brit, although it didn't mean an awful lot to British industry. Where we produce designers they have to also be motivated to promote themselves. Which is the name of the game these days in terms of designers.

We now have the likes of Dragons den, illustrating what it takes to get an idea accepted. It shows the kinds of decisions which goes into getting an idea off the ground. Even then for high volume low cost manufacturing they have to go abroad.

I guess as long as its cost effective to import goods from abroad there will be no manufacturing base to speak of.

<rant mode off>