CEO Update

The mercury may be falling but October growth signposts recovery

24 November 2022 #CEO Update

As wintry conditions arrived in the UK, news that car production returned to growth in October after a September downturn warmed up the week. Although the 7.4% uplift in output couldn’t offset the year’s earlier declines, it is a positive indication that persistent component shortages are beginning to ease, albeit irregularly, signalling recovery is on the way.

The UK’s commercial vehicle manufacturing sector also posted growth, with output continuing its upward trajectory, rising 10.4% to round off 10 months of consecutive growth this year. This strong performance demonstrates the steady overseas demand for British built working vehicles and the determination of manufacturers to fulfil strong order books.

With deadlines for zero emission mobility edging closer, time is of the essence and manufacturers have been ramping up electric vehicle production to hit targets. This determination is paying off with UK car factories alone producing a record-breaking 61,339 battery electric vehicles so far this year, up 16.2% on the same period in 2021.

News that electric vehicles are being built and sold in record numbers is welcome, but we can’t afford to be complacent. Even now, the market is still fledgling and the road to industrial transformation is not smooth. To meet our targets, the pace of growth must step up, and that requires a significant ramp up in charging infrastructure to give drivers and operators confidence to switch. To keep the UK in the race to net zero we also need, and urgently, favourable conditions for investment – especially in affordable and sustainable energy and availability of talent – as part of a supportive framework for automotive manufacturing.

Getting the sector back on course is our priority for 2023, and we’ll reflect on some of the opportunities – and challenges – in the year ahead at the SMMT’s Annual Dinner next week. After two years of lockdown and social distancing we are delighted to be back to capacity. And, with the event now fully sold out, I am looking forward to seeing many of you, in fact almost a thousand of you, there on the night.

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