CEO Update

From cassettes to connectivity; cats to SCR, our 39th Test Day highlights scale and pace of auto innovation

25 May 2018 #CEO Update

This week SMMT hosted its annual Test Day, bringing together vehicle manufacturers and hundreds of automotive and business journalists for a day of driving at Millbrook Proving Ground.

First held nearly 40 years ago, Test Day remains unique, giving media the opportunity to test drive a huge range of vehicles and network with industry representatives. Thirty brands took part this year with over 150 of the latest, most innovative models available to drive – all packed with evidence of the huge investment made by the automotive industry to create cleaner, more advanced technology for customers.

Back in 1979, at SMMT’s first Test Day, the cars on display featured what was then the very latest ground-breaking technology – ABS, catalytic converters and cassette – or maybe even 8-track – players.

Today, innovation is increasing at a faster pace than ever before. Cars with autonomous emergency braking, automatic parking, connected in-car services, petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in and battery electric powertrains – there is more choice today than ever before.

There are currently some 44 brands offering nearly 400 different model types. From city and family cars to supercars and crossovers of all shapes and sizes. Today’s cars are more efficient, safer and cleaner than ever. And, with a brand new emissions testing regime (WLTP) and “on the road” (RDE) testing for the first time, there will be clear evidence to showing the progress being made.

This is important given the need to address air quality. Yes, road transport, including cars, does contribute but there are many more other contributors, and this was clearly recognised in the new Clean Air Strategy published by the Government on Tuesday. Much attention was given to log burning stoves and it was interesting to hear the Environment Secretary Michael Gove recognise that air quality was a local not a universal national problem and that he didn’t advocate “bans” on these emitters.

Attention now turns to SMMT’s next event, Open Forum, which takes place on Tuesday 5 June at Automechanika Birmingham. There is still time to register and hear speakers from brands including Toyota, Aston Martin Lagonda and Bosch debate opportunities in the supply chain and the future of mobility.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT

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