CARS 21 group will address European industry competitiveness

13 January 2005 #SMMT News

CARS 21 group will address industry competitiveness at European level



SMMT today welcomed the launch of a group set up to improve the competitiveness of the European automotive industry. The CARS 21 group1 will propose measures which balance that goal with EU policy objectives and regulation, as well as wider aims to improve road safety and reduce the environmental impact of vehicles.



Comprising members of the car sector, European Parliament, trade unions, NGOs and chaired by the European Commission, CARS 21 will present 10-year recommendations to the Commission by the end of 2005.



SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan, said, ‘Initiatives like SMMT Industry Forum and the Foresight Vehicle programme are already delivering improvements in supply-chain productivity and in supporting research and development projects. SMMT also set up the VIPER group to establish better liaison between government and the industry so that the detail of new legislation does not adversely affect competitiveness.’



He added, ‘However, our industry doesn’t operate in a vacuum, nor within national boundaries. The drive for competitiveness across Europe must be balanced against wider policy aims, EU-driven regulation and long-term sustainable mobility requirements. A joined-up approach is therefore crucial to the health of the sector in this country.’



The launch of CARS 21 follows an interim report that pointed to ‘disappointing delivery’ on objectives to make the EU the world’s most competitive economy. Published in November 2004, the report suggested an overloaded agenda, poor coordination and conflicting priorities had hindered objectives set by the European Council in Lisbon in 2000.



The UK boasts two of the most competitive car plants and the most competitive truck plant in Europe. This country also hosts more car makers than any other country in Europe. However, competitiveness remains a key issue, particularly for component suppliers.



In a recent survey of senior industry executives, Automotive Manufacturing – the Industry Perspective, SMMT found that just 36 per cent felt their business to be competitive when compared to similar companies operating outside Europe. In the same report 95 per cent feared the burden of new legislation was likely to add significant costs to their business.




  1. CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st century) was announced today (13 January 2005) in Brussels in a joint press conference held by Günther Verheugen, EU Commission vice president responsible for enterprise and industry and Dr Bernd Pischetsrieder, president of ACEA.
  2. Automotive Manufacturing – the Industry Perspective is available to download from
  3. Participating in the group on behalf of the automotive sector will be: Bernd Pischetsrieder (VW), Lewis Booth (Ford of Europe), Leif Johnasson (AB Volvo), Sergio Marchionne (Fiat) and Louis Schweitzer (Renault).
  4. VIPER is the Vehicle Industry Policy and European Regulation group, established in 2003 to bring together the automotive sector and officials from government departments to discuss upcoming regulation issues.

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