A faltering auto giant whose brands are synonymous with the open road. Hundreds of thousands of unionized workers with powerful political backers. An urgent plea for the government to write a virtual blank check. This is not the story of Ford and General Motors, but British Leyland, a car company that went through £11 billion of inflation-adjusted British taxpayer money, or $16.5 billion, in the ’70s and ’80s before going out of business. All that is left of the company now are memories of cars like the Triumph, and a painful lesson in the limited effectiveness of bailouts.
The BBC’s Chanel 4 News is reporting that thousands of jobs at two UK car plants could be at risk as a result of a worldwide sales slump. General Motors, the world’s biggest car company which owns Vauxhall, said it will be bankrupt within months unless it gets an emergency cash injection from the US government to help it during the global financial crisis. The firm said it had called off merger talks with Chrysler and was asking the government for help after using up $6.9 billion (£4.4 billion) in the third quarter of 2008. The company employs around 5,000 workers at plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, which produce around 215,000 vehicles a year. Meanwhile, German car giant BMW announced that production of the Mini was to be curtailed, with workers at plants at Oxford and Swindon told […]