1. Do you think that recent investments in the car industry can be viewed as evidence of the economy being rebalanced towards manufacturing?
Yes: 37% No: 49% Don't know: 14%
Our readers were delighted that firms such as Jaguar Land Rover had signalled new investments. But one swallow doesn’t make a summer. And many felt that more needed to be done to rebalance the economy.
2. Are you confident that good news enjoyed in the car industry marks the start of wider, prolonged recovery in the manufacturing sector?
Yes: 30% No: 53% Don't know: 17%
Again, lots of respondents said they wanted to be optimistic about the future of manufacturing as a whole. But scepticism remained about how much could be read into the success of the car industry.
3. Does it matter that there is no domestic volume car manufacturer?
Yes: 64% No: 30% Don't know: 6%
Jaguar Land Rover is owned by Indian firm Tata, while Nissan is Japanese. Does that matter? Almost two-thirds of our readers thought so, with lots saying foreign ownership meant the UK no longer controlled its car industry.
4. Do you view the thriving state of the British car industry as a victory for overseas ownership?
Yes: 48% No: 37% Don't know: 15%
A tough question, this, and it polarised views. The Yes vote, which accounted for almost half of our panel, felt the resurgence of the car industry should be primarily attibuted to the foreign owners that had come along and swept away the memories of inefficient outfits such as British Leyland. The No vote disagreed, saying the success of plants such as Nissan in Sunderland was down to the skills and hard work of its employees.
5. Does being “British-made” ever have any bearing when you buy a new or second-hand car?
Yes: 32% No: 67% Don't know: 1%
“Buy British” cried the governments of yesteryear, as they tried to get consumers to prop up ailing indigenous industry. The trouble was that many home-made cars simply couldn’t compete with the reliability of their overseas counterparts. And it seems that buying a car purely on the grounds of where it is made remains an unimportant factor for the majority of our engineers.
6. Nissan is building the new Leaf electric car in Sunderland. Can you see yourself driving an electric car within, say, the next 10 years?
Yes: 39% No: 48% Don't know: 13%
This is a question we ask from time to time to provide an interesting comparison. It was last asked in February 2011, with the results as follows: Yes 24%, No 55%, Don’t Know 21%. So, with 39% now saying Yes, engineers are evidently warming to the idea of electric cars. No was still the biggest vote, however, with purchase cost and range anxiety the leading detracting factors.
7. Do you think that rising petrol prices will act as the prime factor in accelerating the wider adoption of electric cars?
Yes: 61% No: 34% Don't know: 5%
There’s a school of thought that petrol and diesel prices are unsustainable, and that in a few years’ time we will see employment demographics changing as fuel inflation far outstrips wage inflation, causing restrictions in travel to work catchment areas. Could fuel inflation also drive change in the types of vehicles we buy? Engineers think such a shift is a distinct possibility.
8. Have fuel prices forced you to make a concerted effort to reduce your car usage?
Yes: 58% No: 42%
In relation to the previous question, it is clear that fuel prices are already affecting the frequency with which people use their cars. However, a surprisingly positive message shone through from the write-in replies that our readers attached to their votes: a large number of engineers who voted Yes said they were happy that their car use was being reduced. Many said they had found pleasure in not using the car at weekends, with a surprising number discovering a new-found love of cycling. So high fuel prices are not all bad news.