Motor show news update – 27 May 2004 4pm

27 May 2004 #SMMT News

  • Sinking will not scupper Kia’s buoyant UK growth
  • Shadow Transport Secretary sticks up for drivers
  • Summit set to encourage the young in to engineering
  • Taster test drive feature puts top cars to the test

Sinking will not scupper Kia’s buoyant UK growth

Kia is urgently making contingency plans to advance shipments of cars to Britain from South Korea after 1,300 UK-bound were lost last Sunday in a collision off Singapore between a car-carrying freighter and a super tanker.

With UK sales up 61% up until the end of April, and the brand heading towards 33,000 car sales this year, Kia claimed the accident was unlikely to make a major impact on its forecast performance.

But Kia Motor UK’s spokesman, Paul Carter, admitted that losing the selection of Rios, Sorentos, Carens, Sedonas and 400 of the recently launched Picanto would mean having to bring forward supplies for the September registration peak.

He said: “With our cars very much in demand it is obviously not helpful and we will do all we can to minimise any waiting lists. But customers should know that they will not find empty showrooms because of the collision.

“We are working to bring forward schedules for ships due to dock at Sheerness in Kent over the next few months. This shipment was not due to arrive until late June so they would not be on sale until August and September. It is a case of protecting the orders we have and providing sufficient stock for the September rush.”

Around 4,000 Kias, which are now at the bottom of the South China Sea, were bound for Europe on board the M.V. Hyundai 105, built and operated by Kia’s parent company Hyundai.

Kia had already built up launch stocks for the new five-door Picanto small car, which debuted at the Sunday Times Motor Show Live. The company hopes to sell 6,000 Picantos this year, and 10,000 in 2005.

Carter added: “The loss involved five different models so it is better relatively than a concentration on one or two high-demand vehicles. The fact that they were not that far out from Korea means the majority was not yet allocated to dealers and in the supply pipeline.”

Tory shadow transport secretary, Damien Green, supports drivers.

Shadow transport secretary Damien Green praised the changes to this year’s motor show by congratulating the ” variety of offering, and deliberately trying to widen appeal beyond the usual petrol heads”.

After agreeing the car was here to stay, he went on to speak about many issues surrounding motoring particularly two increasing problems, pollution and congestion. He claimed that there was no “magic bullet” solution but felt that advancements in technology would continue to ease pollution and congestion could be combated by, “using the Tarmac we have in cities more effectively”. He went on the mention several solutions being considered by the Tory party, including allowing cars carrying two or more adults to use bus lanes.

Although Green recognised the school run as a major contributor to congestion which he feels requires a more “imaginative” approach, when questioned about Ken Livinston’s recent comments about `idiot’ parents using SUV vehicles he condemned the mayor’s comments, branding them “silly” and suggested he should be “spending his time working out how to provide ways of getting children to school safely”.

Talking about restrictions on road users he stated that current speed limits, “are all over the place” and criticised his fellow MPs saying that they should, “make it (driving) less painful than it is now”. He pointed out that driving was a “necessity for millions” and could easily be made a more pleasurable experience. While he spoke of his support for low speed limits around schools and other danger areas he went on to suggest that there was no reason why variable speed limits on motorways, such as those in France, should not be introduced in the UK.

Summit set to encourage the young into engineering

A joint initiative to convince young people that working in the engineering and manufacturing sectors is not dirty, hard work, or boring is launched today at The Sunday Times Motor Show Live.

Today’s (Thursday) Youth Engineering Summit at the NEC has been jointly organised by the SMMT Industry Forum and the Learning and Skills Council and involves 700 young people and 80 teachers.

The campaign is being endorsed by sporting role model, Britain’s leading F1 driver Jenson Button, who will point out, via a pre-recorded video, that he could not reach Grand Prix grids without the expertise of world class British engineers.

SMMT Industry Forum chief executive Graham Broome claimed that a constant supply of skilled people is vital if the UK’s engineering and manufacturing sector is to prosper.

He said: “The automotive industry, along with other engineering-based sectors, is being held back in the UK because of a lack of people with the right skills. If we can enthuse these youngsters at an early stage, there is more chance of them pursuing an engineering career.”

The summit, he emphasised, is dedicated to countering negative attitudes and: “demonstrating what an important and exciting career it can offer.”

Resistance among young people to working in the sector is reflected by a survey from an independent manufacturing think tank, the Manufacturing Foundation.

It found that 24 out of 25 young people avoid careers in engineering and manufacturing because they consider them to be: “dirty, hard working or boring.”

SMMT research revealed 54% of automotive sector companies have difficulties recruiting skilled employees.

The joint programme includes video clips of major engineering achievements, a demonstration of how mountain bikes are made by TV presenter Michaela Hyde, a Robots War session, and live theatre demonstrating technological developments.

Taster Test Drive feature puts top cars to the test

Today, for the first time at any motor show visitors to The Sunday Times Motor Show Live could get behind the wheel at the new Taster Test Drive feature.

Says Wesley Murray, one of the first visitors to test drive the rally-bred Subaru Impreza, ‘This was the first thing I wanted to do at the show, the Subaru is an absolutely fantastic car. I’m a car fanatic and its great to be able to come to the show and be able to test drive some of the cars seen on display.”

Visitors to the show can sample the following models: Daihatsu’s Charade, Copen or Terios Sport; Honda’s Jazz, Civic or Civic IMA; Hyundai’s Getz, Matrix or Coupe; MG Rover’s 45, 75 Tourer, ZT or ZS 180; Nissan’s Micra; Subaru’s Impreza, Forester or Legacy and Vauxhall’s Astra or Meriva. Visitors are accompanied by a co-driver who is on hand to give guidance and answer questions on a specially designed outdoor circuit.

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