4 JULY 1952, Page 5

Defiance from Dagenham

In reducing the prices of their cars for export the Ford Motor Company have gone straight to the heart of the matter, Com- petition for overseas orders is now primarily price competition, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself indicated in a speech to the National Union of Manufacturers on Wednesday, Ford's have therefore chosen the way to set about getting new orders. But a movement of this kind, executed in the face of rising costs, also has something of the air of a defiant gesture. Sir Patrick Hennessy, the Managing Director of Ford's, was quite right to point out that full benefits can only be derived from price reductions at this time if other manufacturers follow suit. On the export side they may have to. 3ut it appears doubtful whether the reduction in the price of cars for the home market, which Ford's have also announced at the same time, is an example that others will rush to follow. With demand far exceeding supply, at least where the smaller cars are concerned, such a reduction looks too much like an uncovenanted benefit to the purchaser, who still tends to be as much interested in the car as in the price. But, of course, the new prices are bound to have an effect on new orders for cars to be delivered in the distant future, and other manufacturers, taking a long view, may still be persuaded to follow the Ford Company's example. It is true that the time lag between order and delivery is now so long that delivery prices are still something of a shot in the dark, at least so far as the buyer is concerned. But it may not always be so. And if the Ford Company manage by their latest move 'to give a boost to their business—which is, after all, what they are after—the motoring public will not blame them. Indeed many an intending buyer, watching over the past few years the price of the car he ordered going steadily up and up, will have reason to bless them.