Coventry was once the heart of the UK car industry, with the first ever British car being built there almost 120 years ago. Now ambitious plans are under way to re-establish the city as the automotive industry centre of Britain. Government, the local authority, universities, suppliers and car-makers have united and invested hundreds of millions of pounds in the attempt to convert Coventry into Britain’s “motor city” once again.

Coventry Car Manufacturing

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The first British car was built in 1987 by Daimler, and the car-manufacturing industry in Coventry went from strength to strength, reaching its peak in the 1950s and 1960s. At this time, Britain was the second-largest car-maker in the world, and numerous major car companies were based in Coventry or the surrounding areas. Car manufacturers based here included Jaguar, British Motor Corporation (who made the Mini) and Rootes Group, who became Chrysler and then Peugeot. During the industry’s peak, car leasing in Leicester was booming along with other surrounding cities.


In the 1970s and 1980s, the bottom fell out of the car industry, and Coventry fell into a decline. Jaguar was the last to close down in 2005, and the city’s only significant car manufacturer that still exists is the London Taxi Company.


Today Coventry is emerging as a hub for research and development, all thanks to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), leading manufacturers in the city and the University of Warwick. Companies such as rent out cars and are benefiting from the increased attention Coventry is getting as it once again becomes a motor city.

Next year will see the opening of the National Automotive Innovation Centre, boosting the research and development sector with £150m invested by WMG, JLR and the government. Engineers and academics will work together on advanced research, and JLR has also pledged an additional £500m for expansion plans to make the city of Coventry the “hearts and brains” of the company.

A new car factory is part of the planning, and for the first time in more than a decade, mass production will return to Coventry. The city council is very cooperative about the development plans, and with almost 5,000 jobs already having been created in the past five years, the revival of the motor city could be the making of Coventry once again.