CEO Update

Delivering new technology across all road vehicles

21 August 2020 #CEO Update

Calls for additional support for the HGV sector grew this week with the deeply concerning news that registrations of new HGVs fell by -73.4% in the second quarter. While it is important to be mindful of the pronounced boost the introduction of the mandatory fitment of smart tachographs had on last year’s figures, the impact of coronavirus during 2020 has been unprecedented.

Throughout the pandemic, the HGV sector has played a vital role in keeping the country moving so, given the current economic uncertainties, restoring operator confidence will be crucial in driving the UK’s recovery but also ensuring it is a green recovery as we need more of the latest low emission vehicles on our roads as quickly as possible.

Bus and coach registrations also suffered a similar fate during quarter two with just over 300 new vehicles being registered – a decline of -77.1% – as lockdown measures halted nearly all public transport leaving operators unable and unwilling to invest in their fleets.

As lockdown restrictions ease, and people return to work and school, the government urgently need to release the investment promised earlier in the year for the bus and coach sector and create a viable long term national bus strategy to inject confidence into both the sector and the travelling public. Today’s announcement by the Scottish Government of funding for new ‘green’ buses is a great start but we need a nationwide strategy to replace older, more polluting buses with modern clean technology.

Technological innovation has also featured prominently this week with government announcing a call for evidence on the use of Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) on Great Britain’s motorways. Whilst driverless cars will be many years away, new technology like ALKS – which still require the driver to be alert and able to take control – can have an instant impact in reducing accidents. Its introduction will be life-changing, making our journeys safer and smoother than ever before, helping prevent some 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over the next decade.

This advanced technology is ready for roll out in new models from as early as 2021, so the consultation is a welcome step in bringing regulations up to speed so that the UK can be among the first to grasp the benefits of this road safety revolution.

It’s an exciting time to work in automotive, with rapid technological developments just one example, and SMMT is proud once again to recognise the achievements of the best and brightest women in the business at the Autocar Great British Women in Auto event on 16 September. This initiative plays an important role, as it seeks to help inspire even more talent from across all backgrounds and genders to join us in shaping the future of mobility in the UK.

Finally, Update will take a short break next week before returning on 4 September. In the meantime, I hope that you all have a great couple of weeks and enjoy your bank holiday weekends.