CEO Update

Vehicle safety a priority as road traffic increases

03 July 2020 #CEO Update

As the lockdown restrictions imposed in April ease, and road traffic begins to increase again, the government announced this week that mandatory MOT testing is set to be reintroduced from 1 August 2020. SMMT has been in regular contact with government about lifting the six-month extension, so this comes as welcome news as it will help maintain safety on our roads and ensure the sector’s restart.

As with car showrooms, workshops and garages have put in place comprehensive social distancing and hygiene measures to ensure safety, as set out by SMMT guidance released in May this year. These include zero contact meetings, one-way systems and offering vehicle collections and deliveries for vulnerable customers.

However, millions of vehicles, many of which have been sitting idle for weeks or, in some cases, months, are now returning to the road with deferred test dates. It is therefore critical to ensure the upcoming bow-wave in demand for testing, servicing and repair can be managed effectively, keeping vehicles safe and roadworthy for the many consumers and keyworkers who depend on them.

As we enter July and the UK begins to look towards economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, we cannot forget that time is ticking on agreeing a UK-EU FTA to prevent a no-deal Brexit on 31 December. Last summer, SMMT research highlighted that the UK automotive industry had already spent more than £330 million on no-deal contingency planning, a figure that will have no doubt increased substantially over the past year.

That planning, however, has largely been redirected to cope with the unprecedented situation caused by Covid-19 and the crippling financial consequences. Scarce resources that should be invested in research and technological innovation to help drive a green recovery, are still focused on restart.

The automotive industry cannot afford to spend more hard pressed resources on dealing with a no-deal Brexit, an outcome that would compromise the long-term competitiveness of the industry with negative consequences for business and consumers. We still do not have clarity on what the FTA might look like but it is essential it is comprehensive, delivers tariff and quota-free trade and that must remain an absolute priority.

I leave you with the news that our next Covid-19 webinar will be held on Tuesday 14 July at 15:00 – 16:00. Joining SMMT will be guests from PwC to explain the results of their European supply chain survey. You can register for this event here