Examination of Witness (Questions 180
TUESDAY 27 JUNE 2000
180. And have you noticed that those charges
have gone up significantly above the rate of inflation? (Mr
Evans) I have noticed that they do not seem to be open to
the kind of competitive pressures that so many other products
and services appear to be.
181. And you are using, what, the Dover port? (Mr
Evans) We are using the Tunnel, we load cars at our manufacturing
plants in France and we load boxes of components and put them
on trains, and that train whistles all the way through the Tunnel
and discharges in the Midlands, and we also still use boats for
built-up vehicles. And I just make the observation that those
costs of just shipping across the Channel do not seem to be open
to the same competitive pressures that the rest of the activities
seem to be.
182. You have not made any approaches to the
Office of Fair Trading, or anything like that, to have these matters
investigated? (Mr Evans) No.
183. Just trying to pull the threads together,
Mr Evans, would it be right, in summarising, Peugeot UK, located
at the moment on really one site, producing 200,000 cars per year,
a model which will have to be replaced in three to four years'
time, and investment decisions being taken on that; when would
you anticipate their being taken? (Mr Evans) They are
normally in the time frame of some two years ahead of the final
184. So you are talking about maybe 18 to 24
months from now there would be the possibility of `make up your
mind' time for the main board, if I put it that way? (Mr
185. And would you envisage that, a decision
of this nature, the significance of the pound/france, or pound/euro,
relationship would be significant in that decision-making process? (Mr
Evans) I would say so, yes.
186. So that if we do not have an exchange rate
which is more sympathetic to your business needs then it might
be the case that you would not be looking too favourably at the
UK? (Mr Evans) I think that we are going a little bit
too strongly. All I am saying is that when you have an additional
factor, such as an exchange rate, that you have to manage, and
when you have an exchange which is clearly more linked to a North
American currency, in terms of its movement, than it is linked
to a European currency, as the evidence suggests so far, then
there is a risk in that. And that risk will carry a certain weighting
when we look at all the other pros and cons of UK investment.
We are enthusiasts for UK manufacturing, as a Group, we see our
Ryton facility as an integral part of our European manufacturing
set-up. But there is this risk, in terms of currency, which will
always weigh against the UK, and therefore we will have to find
other compensating reasons to justify continued growth in the
UK that would not have to be found by plants that are in the euro-zone.
187. Thank you very much. That is, I think,
a very helpful and frank expression of your concerns. I would
hope that some of us would be able to visit your Ryton plant later
in the year, if we can find a mutually convenient time, because
we are trying to get a feel for the production side, as well as
the conversations like this, if that would be possible? (Mr
Evans) We would very much welcome that. We have a lot to say
about our manufacturing business in the West Midlands, and we
would very much enjoy the opportunity of having members of the
Select Committee come up and understand what we are doing at first-hand.
Chairman: Thank you very much.