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Automotive industry assembles in South West to examine challenges and assess growth opportunities post-Brexit

15 March 2018 #Event News #SMMT News
  • SMMT Regional Forum unites automotive business leaders from across the South West to discuss new opportunities for growth.
  • Speakers from Honda; Ford; and Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership join more than 100 local businesses and government representatives.
  • Thousands of jobs supported by the sector in the South West, with global car makers and suppliers based in the region driving 10% of total UK automotive manufacturing.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today brought together automotive manufacturers, suppliers and government officials from across the South West at its Regional Forum in Swindon to discuss new supply chain opportunities and preparations for Brexit.

Part of ongoing efforts by SMMT to provide nationwide support, advice and new business opportunities for its members, the Regional Forum welcomed speakers from Ford of Britain; Honda of the UK Manufacturing; Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Somerset-based automotive supplier, Pritex.

The South West has a rich engineering heritage – automotive manufacturing has been present in Swindon since the 1950s – and the town boasts the UK’s seventh largest automotive manufacturing employment cluster. The region is home to car and engine manufacturers, technology companies and SMEs with a substantial supply chain supporting more than 550 companies making everything from air conditioning units to tyres, seats and ground-breaking hydrogen fuel cell components.

Upwards of 10,000 local jobs, many highly-skilled, are supported across the South West by the automotive sector.1 Last year, around 10% of the 1.67 million new cars made in the UK were produced in Swindon – the majority built for export to global markets, including Europe, the USA and Japan.

Investment into Swindon and Wiltshire to develop new technology for the next generation of ultra-low and zero emission, connected and autonomous vehicles is already well underway. More than 30 organisations are working together as part of the Swindon Hydrogen Hub to develop the commercial use of hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, while research organisations in the wider region, including the National Composites Centre, are committed to supporting low-carbon vehicle manufacturing.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The South West is a crucial region for UK Automotive, sustaining thousands of jobs and manufacturing high-quality cars and components for export around the world. Government has made clear the importance of the industry with a sector deal as part of the recently published industrial strategy.

Brexit undoubtedly brings uncertainty so it is encouraging to see the Prime Minister recognise some of the key challenges that will face the sector – not least the importance of integrated supply chains and borders free from quotas and tariffs.

This will be critical for automotive regions like the South West as its highly productive workforce and commitment to quality, innovation and productivity depend on these conditions for future success.

Paddy Bradley, Director Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said,

Working with our partners, the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) has competitively bid for £169 million of public funding for capital infrastructure projects across three Local Growth deals with Government.

This has enabled us to leverage a further £349.2 million of match funding from the private and public sectors resulting in an overall investment of £518 million for Swindon and Wiltshire to support the growth of the priority sectors of our economy.

Our region has considerable experience of making high-quality cars, and this investment will contribute to ensuring we have the right skills, research capabilities and infrastructure to support development of the next generation of ultra-low emission vehicles in the area, creating job opportunities and generating local growth.

SMMT’s Regional Forum provided insights into future supply chain opportunities resulting from the development of local vehicle production, and shift towards zero and ultra-low emission vehicles that contain increasingly connected and autonomous technology.

In addition, the recent Sector Deal included a potential £16 million for supplier competitiveness improvement programmes, which could benefit local component manufacturers. How to mitigate the risks associated with Brexit, such as potential tariffs, access to talent and the impact of customs administration on logistics, were also on the agenda.

More than 100 SMMT members and delegates attended the event, held at STEAM, Museum of the Great Western Railway, with representatives from brands including BMW, MAN Truck & Bus, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, Bosch, TR Fastenings and Magal Engineering. Speakers included Madeleine Hallward, Director of Government Affairs, Europe, Ford of Britain; Darren Gwynne, Head of Procurement and Logistics, Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd; Gareth Jones, Managing Director, Pritex Ltd; Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT and Paddy Bradley, Director, Swindon and Wiltshire LEP.

Notes to editors

1: Upwards of 10,000 jobs according to Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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