UK automotive companies condemn transport system but positive about own future

25 November 2003 #SMMT News

  • Individual companies positive – less so about prospects for whole sector
  • Research and Development along with new product seen as way forward
  • Red tape and dismal transport infrastructure the biggest barriers to success

The British motor industry surprised many commentators today expressing high levels of confidence in the future for automotive manufacturing in the UK. This was tempered with significant concerns about the increasing burden of red tape and the failing national transport infrastructure. These comments emerged from a new survey conducted amongst SMMT membership entitled ‘British Manufacturing: Survival or Growth?’ and published ahead of the 87th SMMT Annual Dinner.

The key findings – attached below – reflect the views of 80 companies employing 100,000 people in the UK automotive sector from component and aftermarket companies to car and commercial vehicle manufacturers.

Key findings:

  • 66 per cent of respondents believe that their own prospects are good in the next year, rising to 75 per cent over a five year view. However 50 per cent believe that production in their sector as a whole will decline in the next five years.
  • 70 per cent are bullish about their competitiveness with the rest of Europe, but only a quarter (27 per cent) believe they are competitive compared with rest of the world.
  • 93 per cent believe that research and development (R&D) is fundamental to its business, with 75 per cent intending to invest in their UK business in the next 12 months.
  • 75 per cent believe that growth prospects lie in international penetration of traditional markets.
  • 54 per cent of businesses are unable to recruit appropriately skilled employees, particularly Level 3 (technician, higher craft or associate professional) and supervisor/managers.
  • 66 per cent believe that the UK economy will under perform compared with Asia Pacific over the year.
  • 57 per cent of companies are concerned that Trade Union militancy will increase.
  • 96 per cent of companies believe that government is not as committed as it should be to maintaining manufacturing as a part of the UK economy.
  • 84 per cent believe that the transport infrastructure makes it increasingly difficult for UK companies to remain competitive.
  • 92 per cent of businesses believe that legislation will have a negative impact on their businesses, with employment, environment and tax legislation being seen as having the greatest impact.
  • SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said ‘The results provide a useful reminder that the British automotive industry is positive about its ability to maintain manufacturing in this country. However there are clear concerns emerging about the state of the transport infrastructure and the implementation of legislation, and these are key areas we will be talking to government about in the coming weeks.’

    For the full report, British Manufacturing: survival or growth? click on the link below.


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