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If you like driving, then thank the robots

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper and that’s going back a few years now, I was taken into a car plant in Coventry, West Midlands. 

It was a rare trip into the adult world and I was spellbound. It was in the late evening and just after the day shift had finished and the night shift was about to start. As I remember, it was part of the plant which made engines. It was dark, smelly and cluttered with all manner of kit and paraphernalia that made Dante’s picture of hell look like a picnic.

The line was stationary and masses of half assembled engines stood waiting, looking lost and forlorn, as though desperate to be whole and working. The overriding memory is of darkness and the intense smell of oil. I was glad to back out in the fresh air air.

Fast forward many decades and I was visiting the Jaguar plant in Halewood, Liverpool. Imprinted with my image of the engine plant, I was expecting the same hellish scenes, even though I knew that manufacturing had moved light years away from where it was once.

And, yes, I was wrong. The factory was brilliantly lit, spotlessly clean and the assembly line, filled with small Jaguar saloons, moved patiently along, morphing from shells into cars. And it all moved with robotic precision. 

Which is the point, without robots and automation, car manufacturing would be stuck in the dark ages, unable to manufacture the type cars we all yearn to drive.