CEO Update

Why we can be optimistic about the future

08 March 2019 #CEO Update

This week saw the launch of Mission Automotive, an exciting new initiative that aims to find ex-armed forces personnel employment in the car industry. It’s being coordinated by the team behind Mission Motorsport, which SMMT has supported for a number of years with ex-service people, including many with disabilities, joining the automotive sector and rapidly becoming an asset to their respective companies.

It’s great to see a new programme like this that has the potential to transform lives and businesses, and a reminder that UK Automotive is not just an industry, but is made up of individuals who all bring something different to the table. If we’re to remain ahead of the curve we need to pick the best people from the widest selection, and veterans come equipped with skills, discipline and experience with the latest technologies that are a real asset on the automotive frontline.

You can’t have failed to miss the coverage of the Geneva motor show this week – this set piece event features a unique mix of sports cars and global bestsellers. The overwhelming message on the ground in Switzerland was of confidence in the industry, its ability to transform and how it is embracing an increasingly electrified future.

Sadly that optimism has yet to translate into the figures we see in our new car registrations – while market share of alternatively fuelled vehicles is increasing each month, it’s not happening as quickly as is needed. Indeed, PHEV numbers have been held back by the reprofiling of the plug-in grant last October, in a market where there is some hesitancy from customers as there always is with new technology.

Car makers have made huge commitments to bring to market an ever-increasing range of exciting zero and ultra-low emission vehicles and give buyers greater choice. But if the UK is to achieve its electrification ambitions, a world-class package of incentives and infrastructure is needed. The removal of the plug-in grant from PHEVs was a backward step and sends entirely the wrong message. Supportive, not punitive measures are needed, else ambitions will never be realised.

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