TNB News

Building on the successes of 2022

22 December 2022 #TNB News

What a year of change we have seen in 2022, with three Prime Ministers, four Chancellors and four Minsters of Transport. SMMT waived goodbye to Nigel Base in April upon his retirement. I took over the reigns in July and have been made to feel very welcome by the industry and many members.

The CV Show was a highlight, having moved to the slightly later slot of May this year, with feedback from exhibitors that the quality of visitors and engagement was very good. In the same month, SMMT called for national ‘van plan’ to accelerate electric LCV uptake, following a member survey that showed 57% of van owners were anxious about going electric over fears they wouldn’t be able to find a charging point where and when they need it.

Charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for CVs of all types and sizes has been a common concern for members this year, and it is crucial that infrastructure receives greater focus in 2023, with all stakeholders required to play their part if we are going to move closer to our shared net zero targets. With changes expected in 2023 such as to how depots pay for sub-station upgrades, we are seeing more light at the end of the tunnel, but more has to be done.

ZEBRA funding has now been announced for 1,278 zero emission vehicles through 17 local authorities, with some already being ordered. There are still 48 regions that are yet to receive funding, however, and this must be a priority in 2023 too, in order to encourage zero emission CV uptake by operators across the UK. Hopefully the recently announced £2 fare price cap to be introduced in the new year will help to maintain and grow bus ridership levels over the winter period, too, providing reassurance for operators.

In the warmer months this year, SMMT held its annual Test Day at Millbrook Proving Ground, featuring the Working Vehicle Zone that offered mainstream journalists the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a truck for the first time, with a number of zero emission models on the track. It gave members the chance to engage with national media, including the likes of The Guardian and The Telegraph, to highlight their concerns and generate positive coverage.

Those efforts continued at SMMT’s Automotive Summit in June, when SMMT set out a fresh roadmap, From Full Throttle to Full Charge, providing a clear vision of how the UK car and CV sectors can lead Britain’s push to net zero, developing a UK automotive ecosystem which delivers both a healthy new market and competitive zero emission vehicle manufacturing capability. The surge in energy costs continues to be a key concern for manufacturers, and we will continue to push for a long-term plan that safeguards the sector’s competitiveness in these complex times.

Recruitment of a skilled and semi-skilled workforce is a key part of this, and has been raised by many members over the last six months. SMMT recently launched the Automotive Industry Career Guide to provide industry insight to potential recruits and highlight the 14,000 new roles either delivered or being created by UK investment in zero emission vehicle and battery production since 2011. As the sector searches for talented employees to join its ranks and drive Britain’s move to a net zero economy, we must be open to people from all backgrounds, experiences, genders, ethnicities, qualifications and abilities, helping to boost creativity and business success.

While we end the year with complex global economic challenges, we are a resourceful, optimistic sector that will rise to any obstacle, and I look forward to seeing what 2023 will bring. May I wish you a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year.


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