CEO Update

Electrifying UK Automotive

17 March 2022 #CEO Update

SMMT Electrified is back next Wednesday in our first fully in-person conference since the pandemic began some two years ago – a remarkable thought. Taking place at the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster, the event comes at a critical juncture, with the shift to electrification in the automotive sector developing rapidly.

As an industry, we are determined to work with government and all stakeholders to deliver an ambitious transition to zero emission mobility, one that has consumers at the heart of it and is accessible and affordable for all. I’m delighted that Electrified will bring together senior leaders and experts from every sector and segment key to the transition to debate and discuss how we can deliver on these shared ambitions.

Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport; Thomas Becker, Vice President of Sustainability and Mobility Strategy, BMW Group; and Fu Bingfeng, Executive Vice Chairman and Secretary General, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) are just some of the speakers on board. The event is now fully subscribed, testament to the strength of the line-up and issues at hand, though you can join the waiting list by clicking here, and I look forward to welcoming many of you, face-to-face, next week.

Fundamental to a successful transition of our road vehicles to electric powertrains are incentives, which is why government’s extension of the Plug-in Van Grant, announced this week, is welcome as it will encourage more operators to make the switch to electric vehicles over the next three years. Further, confirmation of the continuation of the current licensing regulations will make it easier to recruit drivers for the heaviest electric vans.

While the van market saw record electric uptake last year, it remains some distance behind cars, with battery electric vans making up just 3.6% of new registrations. Heavy goods vehicles have even further to go given their very specific and varied energy needs. With ambitious deadlines to convert the UK’s entire working vehicle fleet to electric by 2040 (2030 for vans), the speed of uptake must be increased rapidly.

This will require attractive incentives and significant investment in EV charge points in every region, not just for cars but for commercial vehicles. Indeed, there is already evidence that a lack of dedicated commercial vehicle infrastructure is holding back the introduction of new technology vehicles, putting the UK behind international competitors.

Finally, SMMT will hold its second member-only webinar focused on the Ukraine crisis and its impact on the automotive sector, next Tuesday – register here. The terrible actions being inflicted on the country and its people are visible to all and Governments’ economic sanctions justified. The impact on the sector is also becoming apparent and we need to understand how the latest sanctions – which include automotive trade – will be applied and assess the impact they will have on the sector.

Most automotive trade with Russia has already ceased but SMMT will be looking to gather intelligence to help our ongoing engagement with Government and inform members via the SMMT Ukraine hub, accessible here, which will continue to be updated regularly.

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