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Birmingham or Stuttgart, Sheffield or Essen?

26th October 1916
Page 4
Page 4, 26th October 1916 — Birmingham or Stuttgart, Sheffield or Essen?
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Where is the after,the-war magneto to be made ? Are we once again to be dependent on Germany

• for the supplies of this essential component, or is British industry to be rewarded by encouragement ?

The problem of producing a satisfactory all-British magneto, difficult as it appeared to be, has been solved. That of ensuring a market for it when peace is declared is not. • It might be thought that the solving of the first would cause the second to become non-existent. Such is, however, far from being the case. Let us consider the reasons.

In the first place, the Gernian Bosch magneto quality is..still held as unequalled by the majority of home motor engineers. This is a bogie which will take some ,laying, and no opportunity of combating it has yet been afforded to the British magneto manufacturers. Notwithstanding the output of which we gave the figures last week, very few of our chassis makers are really aware of the fact that British magnetos are to be had. If we except those who are engaged on the manufacture of aircraft engines, and some motorcycle makers, we might state that none is in possession of this information.

In. the absence of any restrictions, many—probably the majority—of these makers would, after the war, immediately reopen negotiations with the Bosch Co. Some have avowed their intention so to do, others, no doubt, are covertly of the same mind ; the remainder could very easily be persuaded, in view of the very keen competition-which the trade is expecting to ensue immediately hostilities cease. The Bosch

• Co. will not be slow, on its part, to press the point that it has during the war been rendering useful service to the Government from its Tottenham Court Road depot; the &existence of which after over two years of war is curious to say the least. That the industry should ever be allowed to revert to Germany, and that we should ever again be dependent on outside sources for this all-important petrol-engine fitting is unthinkable. From a national standpoint, some action is necessary. From the point of view of the manufacturers, who have deliberately set out to meet the Government requirements, who have allowed for this cause some of their normal aetivities to be superseded, and who have laid out capital on this new industry, capital for which at the moment they appear to have no permanent security, protective measures of some kind are justly due. It encouraging to note that the Government departments directly concerned themselves realize the importance of the question. It is, moreover, generally

recognized that all possible measures for regaining this trade. will be resorted to by the German company, and that price will be no object.

The position to be met is therefore summarized as follows :—The existence of a good British magneto is unknown to all but a few, and the legend of Bosch superiority is still to them very real. Capital has been sunk for the benefit of the country, in an industry which cannot yet compete with the decade-old' organization of the Bosch company, as we know it. The industry is of national importance.

In order that the first disability may be overcome, time is necessary—time in which to show the chassis maker that the Bosch magneto is unnecessary. This calls for a period commencing from` the date of the proclamation of peace, during which magnetos of

German origin should be totally prohibited. in reply to those who suggest a tariff it may be pointed out that 100 per cent, ad valorem duty on a magneto would not exceed 25, and that such is the power of the name Bosch, that this amount per chassis would be regarded as well spent. Prohibition fora. time is -a sine qua non. As regards machines emanating from neutral countries, 33i per cent. import duty would probably meet the case. The position with regard to the American Bosch is peculiar, but not insurmountable.

Given time and opportunity to prove the British product, other problems automatically disappear, as, provided the period of suspension of enemy trade is of sufficient duration, measures for combating fair competition will automatically arise. Mr. Garton, of 38, Waverley Road, Kenilworth, the Ron, Secretary of the British Ignition Apparatus Association, thinks that five years would be a reasonable time, and we gathered in the course of conversation that his association, which has been now in 6xistence for nearly a year, is very hopeful of accomplishing something on the lines we have laid down. The Government Committee on Commercial and Industrial Policy has been approached, and is considering the question. We believe it has already been admitted that the magneto industry is considered to be_one of the key industries, the possession of which is necessary to the country.

The matter is of first importance ; the time to deal with it is now.

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