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Last month the US-based Forbes financial institution presented a table of what it describes as the "world's biggest companies" – all 2,000 of them – plus their annual sales, assets and profits figures for the year ending March 2012.
From those 2,000 I extracted the top 20 vehicle manufacturers, which I ranked on what Forbes says are their respective levels of profitability over the last 12 months or so.
We sold Austin Rover to the Germans, who in turn sold it to a bunch of venture capitalists who managed to turn a once-thriving British firm into a Chinese one, wrecking thousands of lives in the process and walking away with £40million, as the sacked Longbridge workers were given just £2,800.
The profits from ‘our’ car industry flow mostly back to shareholders in Germany, Japan and America.
But at the other end of the scale, most Japanese manufacturers are comparative paupers making only a few hundred million dollars a year.
Everyone agrees our cars were rubbish compared to those made by the Germans, the Italians and, especially, the Japanese. World-beaters, far superior to anything on offer from Germany, Italy or Japan.
We all remember the Allegros and Morris Marinas (miserable machines) but what about the original Mini? As Ruppert says, if you see a Lotus broken down by the roadside, people tend to snigger, make cruel remarks about British build quality and remind everyone that ‘Lotus’ actually stands for ‘Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious’.
In second place is Ford, with .2bn of annual profit.
On the one hand Ford deserves to be congratulated for returning to rude financial health.