CEO Update

Automotive key to government’s £1 trillion trade target

19 November 2021 #CEO Update

UK Automotive is export-led and free and fair global trade has been the bedrock on which the sector has built its recent success. It is welcome, therefore, to see the government this week set out its new trade strategy to help UK businesses boost their overseas orders and ultimately hit £1 trillion in exports.

The “Made in the UK, Sold to the World” campaign name certainly rings true for automotive, as the sector is a world leader in automotive manufacturing and ships cutting edge products to all corners of the globe.

This sector, therefore, can play a fundamental role in helping government realise its trade ambitions while at the same time levelling up the UK. Other elements of the strategy are also welcome, not least the new UK Tradeshow Programme as its predecessor proved so vital in helping automotive SMEs engage with new, global markets.

Elsewhere this week, the effects of the pandemic continue to be apparent on the HGV and bus and coach sectors, with Q3 registrations declining by -8.4% and -19.8% respectively. HGV operators are struggling with shortages of both drivers and the global shortages of semiconductors limiting vehicle supply, at the same time as facing significant long term decarbonising challenges.

With the government confirming last week its ambition to end the sale of all non-zero emission HGVs by 2040, flexibility for the future is important as well as a dedicated HGV infrastructure plan, proposals for which are still awaited.

Although lockdowns have ended, and workers have been returning to the office in increasing numbers as the economy continues to open, the bus and coach sector continues to face reduced passenger numbers leading operators to be hesitant in placing new orders. The additional funding promised by government for new zero emission buses needs to flow through urgently, not just to stimulate confidence and support a vital sector but also to deliver environmental goals.

Finally, I look forward to seeing many of you in person next week as SMMT’s Annual Dinner which returns for the first time since 2019. If you are a member yet to purchase your ticket, there are a tiny handful still available. Please contact for more information.

Update Newsletter