From overcoming barriers to EV adoption, to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI), the issues raised and debated at SMMT Open Forum, held at Automechanika Birmingham this week, were legion. However, it was the extent to which the UK’s supply chain can capitalise on the future of mobility that perhaps resonated most. Innovation in our sector comes from many areas, not least the supply chain, so it is the ability of this segment to rise to these challenges that will determine our future success. The trade fair provided the perfect platform to demonstrate the innovation – in both the aftermarket and supply chain – reflecting the breadth of the sector’s offer.
Automechanika Birmingham also played host to SMMT’s Meet the Buyer event, in which around 400 one-to-one meetings between component manufacturing, and other, companies, and OEM and Tier 1 manufacturer purchasing representatives, took place to explore possible partnerships. It is always one of the most popular and, for participants, commercially successful of SMMT events.
Elsewhere, SMMT figures released on Tuesday revealed growth in the new car market for May following the double digit rise in April. Registrations rose 3.4% as more than 190,000 models left showrooms, with private buyers driving the increase. More than a million new cars have been registered on UK roads since January and so despite recent turbulence, the market remains at a historically high level.
One of the most important trends is the shift to alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), which, thanks to massive manufacturer investment in an ever growing range of models, continues to pick up pace. AFVs took a record 5.8% market share last month and, so far in 2018, registrations have increased almost 20% as demand for plug-in hybrid cars, in particular, continues to grow. Equally important, however, is the need for more clarity on the government’s strategy for the transition to these new powertrains and, in particular, a reaffirmation of the critical role the internal combustion engine – both petrol and diesel – will play for many years to come.
Finally, the 102nd SMMT Annual Dinner returns later this year on Tuesday 27 November with comedian, writer and actress Katherine Ryan confirmed as the celebrity guest speaker. She’s a regular on well-known shows including Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, and we are delighted to welcome her. Tickets for the dinner are available now, visit smmt.co.uk/events/annualdinner
Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT