CEO Update

Long-term vision needs investment that starts now

14 June 2019 #CEO Update

Our 2019 Future Mobility Challenge has officially been launched, which sees start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs getting the chance to present their innovations and ideas to five household automotive brands. We’ve come up with eight mobility challenges that need addressing, and our five brands are looking for solutions that will help overcome those challenges in some way.

Last year’s event was a resounding success, with a number of groups making successful pitches that are even now being developed into working ideas, taking advantage of world-class mentoring, funding and development facilities. It is exciting to see people with fresh ideas getting the chance to make them a reality, and we’ve had a strong response already. If you know anyone who could enter the Future Mobility Challenge – and we accept entries from all over the world – then make sure they get in touch and apply.

Along the same theme, this week SMMT attended EcoMotion in Tel Aviv to connect with companies and start-ups from Israel’s fast-growing tech sector. The visit saw us moderating a panel on automotive cyber security, as well as hosting a breakfast roundtable with Squire Patton Boggs and the UK Israel Tech Hub who brought along some of Israel’s automotive tech start-ups. A lively discussion covered some of the latest issues and key developments affecting the global automotive industry with everyone looking for collaborative opportunities between automotive and tech companies and investors around the world including, and especially, the UK given our reputation for engineering excellence and our diverse automotive manufacturing sector. Whatever happens with Brexit in the near-term, it’s clear that for UK Automotive to flourish we need to have a long-term vision that looks further afield for opportunities to collaborate and expand our efforts.

This week the prime minister announced that the government will commit to the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The automotive industry has already spent billions developing the latest low and zero emission technologies to suit all driving needs and obviously we share the government’s vision of a zero emission future. It is a laudable ambition but delivering on that promise will require equally binding commitments to infrastructure investment, long-term incentives and consistent, technology-neutral policies. It will not come cheap but such fundamental changes to society never do.