CEO Update

New leadership ahead but familiar challenges remain

02 September 2022 #CEO Update

September brings with it the new 72 number plate and, this year, a new Prime Minister and government for the UK. Yet the big issues facing the automotive sector remain the same. Energy costs are escalating to startling levels; supply chain disruptions, while hopefully starting to ease, are still constraining manufacturing output; and labour shortages continue to bedevil this and so many other industries. With inflation continuing to soar, consumer confidence plummeting and public nervousness about the ability to meet bills come the winter, the new PM faces an unenviable inbox.

The need for urgent action to help tackle these challenges is paramount. A priority must be to mitigate the incredibly high cost of energy for domestic and business customers, assuring the UK’s competitiveness, particularly at this critical time in the transition to net zero. Electric vehicle production is on the up, rising 65.9% in July, while UK demand for electric vehicles is also up some 50% so far this year. This is thanks to an ever-growing choice of models, with ever-longer battery range. The fundamentals are strong, therefore, and the UK is well placed to deliver green growth. But this is still a nascent technological transition and an emerging market, so additional energy costs that raise the cost of production, as well as vehicle charging, could undermine confidence and progress.

If we are to meet our shared ambitions for net zero, we need government, chargepoint operators and the energy sector to pull every lever to make switching to EVs accessible to all – including wider availability of public chargepoints, aligning public charging VAT with home charging, and delivering more affordable and more sustainable energy. The next Prime Minister must, ultimately, create the right conditions for economic growth, restore consumer confidence and support the transition to zero emission mobility. This is not special pleading; if our sector is successful, so will be the economy and, increasingly, the environment.

This a topic that will be in sharp focus next week as Cenex-LCV returns to UTAC, Millbrook on 7-8 September with a packed seminar agenda and technology exhibition. The event provides a platform to bring together decision makers from across the automotive sector, government and beyond to focus on the future of connected, automated and zero emission transport. Registration is free via the website and, given the importance attached to making this transition successful, I look forward to seeing many of you there.

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