Back in 2006, Peugeot sold 144,132 cars in the UK to grab 6.15% market share and third in the overall sales charts. Times were good and the 206/207 was sixth best-selling model with local production at Ryton making the difference.
Yet ten years on Peugeot sales have subsided to 98,529 cars for a much diminished market share of 3.23%. It is now number eight overall with a strong chance its closest rival, Toyota, with a UK plant, might overhaul it in 2017.
Of course the past decade has also been tough on Vauxhall, stronger competition whittling its 12.89% market share down to 9.32%.
However, the sales gap with PSA has widened in favour of Vauxhall, which enjoys two-and-a half times the market share of the French company and retains the number two spot overall, while the British-built Astra keeps sales buoyant and the brand thriving.
Vauxhall supplies the bulk of British Police Forces, for example, with the British-built Astra and Vivaro, and it’s difficult to imagine them renewing contracts.
History suggests that the effect on Vauxhall of closing Ellesmere Port will be a loss of three to five per cent of market share over the next five to ten years – a loss of about 80k to 120k units.
Hardly a glowing recommendation for a takeover plan whose headline claims it will boost PSA’s European market share.
The loss of Ellesmere would also put a huge question mark over the entire future of Vauxhall – putting at risk 250k sales.
And then there’s the potential damage to Peugeot’s brand image in the UK. No-one knows how, or if, Brexit will make UK buyers more patriotic, but there is obvious overlap between supporters for an EU exit and volume-market car buyers.
There are other links between UK manufacturing and UK sales performance: Ford, which ceased UK car production in 2002, has since seen its market share drop from 17 per cent then, to 12% now.
More positively, Mini’s successful relaunch in 2001 was built around a new Oxford factory, resulting in a rising share, now up to 2.5%.
Might the unintended consequences of closing UK car factories be a loss of sales and market share in Europe’s second-biggest market, sufficient to undermine the logic for closure? Peugeot will hopefully reflect on the consequences of slimming-down Vauxhall, after all it has the lesson of the Ryton closure in plain sight.
Prime Minister Theresa May to meet PSA boss to discuss Vauxhall deal