CEO Update

Fleet renewal key to emissions targets

14 February 2020 #CEO Update

Used car sales figures for 2019 were released this week and, although on the face of it activity was flat in the year with a -0.1% decrease in cars changing hands, the final two quarters delivered growth following a significant period of decline.

Having the latest low emission technologies filtering down to the used car market is essential if we are to meet ambitious environment targets, and for that we need both the used and new car markets to be buoyant. Which is why the uncertainty over restrictions on vehicle technology, which is throttling demand, is a worry.

Uptake of ultra low and zero emission vehicles is going to be a focus for us all in the coming years. SMMT and vehicle manufacturer representatives met this week with officials from BEIS and DfT to discuss the government’s proposal to end the sale of new internal combustion engine and hybrid cars by 2035.

We applaud the ambition to move the UK to a zero emission fleet, but that ambition must be underpinned by a solid, well-planned strategy to support the transformation of a market that has been based on the internal combustion engine for 120 years.

Industry is investing heavily in zero and ultra low emission technologies, but the charging infrastructure needs massive expansion and consumers need certainty of long-term support to have the confidence and ability to buy these new vehicles. Without these two fundamental support mechanisms, any date is merely an ambition.

The shift to low emission vehicles was one of the topics – along with, inevitably, trade – SMMT presented at two conferences in New Delhi over the weekend organised by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

India is, of course, a potentially huge market but it is also one with high ambition. UK companies have a strong reputation in India which was why we also had with us a delegation of UK businesses looking to build international links.

With two conferences, the national motor show and a massive components exhibition running concurrently, it is a great platform to explore the Asian automotive market and a timely reminder that, despite the headwinds, our automotive sector is outward looking and open for business.