Smaller manufacturers have been ignored by politicians when it comes to funding, the man at the top of one of the country’s oldest car-makers has said.
Charles Morgan, the managing director of Worcestershire’s Morgan Motor Company, said smaller car-makers like his own were often more innovative and quicker to bring new inventions to fruition, but had been passed over for support in favour of global manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover.
Mr Morgan is the grandson of Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan who founded the company in 1909. He said the firm had been working on an electric car for a year – the Morgan Life Car 2 concept – and expected have it on the road in another two.
He said smaller firms like his own would find it much easier to innovate than their larger counterparts.
“There are some incredible pockets of innovation in established family businesses,” he said.
“And these are often overlooked by governments that are looking for a ‘safer’ investment – or what they perceive to be safer anyway.
“The problem with this is that large corporations are less flexible and less able to bring inventions quickly to the market.
“Smaller companies are ideal platforms to bring investment to the front without having to put such huge sums of money in.
“My argument is not to overlook the smaller SMEs that have creative management – you get more bang for your buck.”
Morgan Motor Company, which has its headquarters in Malvern, employs about150 people and produces a few hundred cars a year. But it is one of the oldest and best-known names in the business, and is also perhaps the largest car-maker still in British hands – a fact Mr Morgan said made the firm “very proud” and gave it a sense of responsibility.
Mr Morgan was speaking ahead of a talk he will be giving on June 23 – the latest in a series of speeches to the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, part of BCU. Graduate researchers at BCU have a long connection with Morgan, and worked on developing the electric battery and generator to fit the new vehicle.
“We did it with a tiny team and a minute budget, and as a result proved that a small firm can do these things,” he said. “What we are trying to demonstrate is that a company that made the same car for 50 years can do this.
“There might be lots of other companies out there that just need a slight investment of new talent or money.”
He said the quality of design was crucial to a firm like Morgan that hand-made cars – there is a waiting time of a year or more to get a Morgan car.
In recent years the company has started to move beyond its classic range and has been designing a number of new vehicles – a success that Mr Morgan put down to the efforts of designers, and government investment in research funding.
Government support can take away up to 40 per cent of the cost of taking on a graduate researcher to work on a manufacturing project.
The company has been relatively unscathed by the global problems in the automotive market, because it sources its components on a global basis.
And Mr Morgan said there was a growing demand for customisable cars, with consumers getting ever more demanding.