Coventry has a fantastic history in the motor industry. Vehicle manufacturing began in the city in the 1900s as a natural diversification from the bicycle industry. At the height of its powers several huge manufacturers were based in the area including Daimler, Triumph, and Peugeot. A huge proportion of the population worked at factories in various types of motor industry jobs. A social and community scene sprang up as a result.
The industry sadly began to decline in the 70s. Competition from overseas was high and the savings on offer were too attractive for many manufacturers to resist. A period of factory closures and consolidations occurred resulting in rising unemployment.
The shift away from manufacturing continued after the turn of the Millennium. The huge Massey Ferguson tractor plant closed in 2002 due to pressure to move all of the production to France. Jaguar followed by closing their Brown’s Lane site in 2005 and Peugeot wound up their Ryton factory in 2006.
Surprisingly the motor industry is making a resurgence in the city thanks to the two local universities. Coventry University and Warwick University account for over 50,000 students between them. Both have partnered with the motor industry recently and will be opening brand new design centres in the near future.
Coventry University will open the National Transport Design Centre in May. The facility will be home to cutting edge 3D printers and machinery for clay modelling to help with designing cars, boats, and even trains.
Warwick University is going a step further with the £150 million National Automotive Innovation Centre set to open in 2018. Students and people from across the motor industry will come together for research and development.
Many manufacturers are also returning to the city. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is planning to double its footprint in the area, creating up to 2,000 motor industry jobs. Microcab is setting up in the city, RDM is operating locally, and the London Taxi Company recently opened a new factory to build electric cabs in the city.
It is fantastic that the motor industry is back in Coventry and bringing jobs as well as new technology with it.