Motor show news – 25 May 14:00

25 May 2004 #SMMT News

  • Patricia Hewitt hails success of UK motor industry
  • Amphibious car makes a splash at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live
  • Jodie Kidd goes into training for Maserati challenge
  • Blue pop star, Simon Webbe, takes a spin with MG Rover
  • Patricia Hewitt hails success of UK motor industry

    Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt MP today hailed the success of the UK motor industry as she addressed the Vehicle Manufacturers Conference on press day at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live.

    “The fact that in future one in four of all Fords and a significant percentage all BMWs will have British built engines is an extra-ordinary achievement. The government has provided the foundation of economic stability and we are working with the industry to keep it competitive,” she said.

    Asserting that Britain should now be known more as “a nation of car lovers rather than cat lovers”, she pointed to increasing sales and production figures, the 250,000 jobs in car and component manufacturing and the further 500,000 jobs in the wider industry as evidence of success.

    Referring to the controversy that surrounded her comments about the advertising campaign for the 2002 show as “a storm in a D-cup”, Hewitt said that she had found another reason to visit this year’s event, to add to the “101 Reasons” advertisements promoting this year’s show.

    “There are in fact 102 reasons to visit, and the 102nd is to celebrate the success of the British motor industry,” she said.

    Responding to the claim by Ford UK chairman Roger Putman that the burden of European regulation will add Euros 5,000 to the cost of a new car by 2008, Hewitt admitted that “the cumulative effect of regulation from Europe is a concern”, but said that Britain has the agreement of its European partners to ensure that production is not driven off shore. “The Viper partnership between government and industry in the UK will have a key role to play in lobbying Brussels”, she added.

    Tod Evans, president of the SMMT said that the visit of the Secretary demonstrated the government’s support for the new interactive emphasis at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live. He said, “It’s a completely new concept and we are delighted to welcome Patricia Hewitt to Birmingham today.”

    Amphibious car makes a splash at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live

    Gibbs Technologies has secured its place as a leader of amphibian technology by unveiling its second vehicle, the four-wheel-drive Humdinga, at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live.

    The original inspiration for Gibbs Technologies amphibian vehicles came out of necessity. Company Chairman Alan Gibbs, who is from New Zealand, wanted a vehicle that could get him from his home on one side of the bay to his farm on the other. Years later, in 2003, the Aquada, the world’s first High Speed Sports Amphibian was born in Nuneaton, West Midlands.

    After scouring the globe for the best technical engineers, Gibbs came to the UK where the standards of engineering, craftsmanship and innovation are acknowledged throughout the automotive industry.

    Gibbs Technologies’ team of local engineers, led by Neil Jenkins, have been riding the wave of success since launching the Aquada. Demand for the vehicle has been so high that the company has abandoned original plans of producing just 100 and increased numbers dramatically. Good news for potential customers, the increase in demand has halved the price from £150,000 to £75,000.

    Visitors to The Sunday Times Motor Show Live will be able to see the Aquada in action on the lake just in front of the main entrance.

    Jodie Kidd goes into training for Maserati challenge

    Supermodel Jodie Kidd, fresh from bruising a few male egos on Top Gear’s Driver Challenge, is set to widen her competitive horizons by taking part in the Trofeo circuit race for Maserati. Jodie announced her next speed challenge on the Maserati stand during press day at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live.

    The Trofeo circuit racing competition, traditionally competed for by ‘gentleman’ drivers, will find Jodie a more than determined challenger as she masters her 180 MPH, 4.2 litre V8 Trofeo Maserati.

    Although UK motor fans will get to see one of the Trofeo races during the forthcoming Silverstone Grand Prix weekend, they’ll have to wait until next year to see Jodie take part.

    Jodie, a Maserati Spyder driver for over two years, jets off to Italy next week to receive specialist race training and to qualify for a C-racing licence.

    Blue pop star, Simon Webbe, takes a spin with MG Rover

    Simon Webbe of pop band Blue fame was spotted in the latest MG Xpower SV supercar at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live as he prepares to make his feature film debut in action adventure movie `RUN’.

    As Simon takes a break from Blue for two months to launch his film career he has been putting pedal to the metal in the pure race bred, thrilling modern MG Xpower SV supercar that he will be driving in the film.

    Says Simon Webbe on the MG Xpower SV, “The handling is superb, sharp corners are no problem and it was a dream to drive it absolutely flat out. I love the look of it, it’s sleek and modern, the kind of style that reflects my personality.”

    On the question of his ultimate car colour it wasn’t predictably blue but something a bit more sleek and sophisticated like silver or black.

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