CEO Update

Protecting our competitiveness is a long-term commitment for growth

23 September 2022 #CEO Update

The new government’s first full week of activity brought with it long-awaited news on the extent of business energy cost relief and, today, the Chancellor’s Growth Plan, which opens the door to an automotive recovery with encouragement for investment and tax cuts designed to rebuild consumer confidence.

Energy is a big issue for the industry, so capping wholesale gas and electricity prices for businesses for six months from 1 October gives thousands of automotive companies vital breathing space to keep their operations viable this winter. It remains, however, a short-term solution. Without a full and long-term package of measures, many companies will approach a cliff edge at the end of that period.

Manufacturers, and indeed the wider industry, are consistently investing to drive down energy use and, in turn, carbon emissions but high energy costs are threatening competitiveness and viability. Government must now seize this opportunity to deliver a long-term, affordable and secure supply of low carbon energy and we look forward to further action in the months ahead to tackle wider, long-term reform to enhance the automotive industry’s international competitiveness. This must include a review on business rates and encouraging investment in new skills – enabling the sector to deliver growth in trade, jobs, and decarbonisation.

The industry’s value to the British economy is clear, with an annual turnover of £67 billion and its contribution has been highlighted in recent months by UK commercial vehicle (CV) production, up 46.9% so far in 2022, representing the CV sector’s best year-to-date performance in a decade.

This puts us on a strong footing as some of Britain’s leading CV producers and suppliers attended IAA Transportation 2022 in Hanover this week, displaying their latest zero emission vehicles and technologies to industry leaders and experts from across the world.

The UK’s CV manufacturers are committed to cutting-edge innovation to achieve decarbonisation but, having visited the show, it is evident that global competition is fierce. IAA also provided key opportunities for SMMT to meet industry leaders and stakeholders including our German counterparts and Government to discuss how the UK can work with other nations on shared interests to ultimately deliver jobs and growth for all.

Developing new business connections will be central to the next SMMT Regional Networking, at the AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre on 19 October, which will be followed by SMMT Meet the Buyer at the NEC on 2 November. The latter has a host of leading brands signed up as buyers, including Alexander Dennis, Arrival, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, INEOS Automotive, McLaren, Nissan, Tevva and Toyota, so I encourage you to express your interest here.

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