CEO Update

With the right plan, UK automotive growth can recharge the economy

02 December 2022 #CEO Update

After what seems like a decade of uncertainty, from Brexit to lockdowns, there is finally some hope for growth. SMMT’s latest research reveals that the industry’s expected return to growth next year could be worth an additional £14 billion to the UK economy in 2023 alone, with the new car and van market set to rise 15%, along with recovering production. As a critical contributor to the economy, it is essential that this projected growth comes to fruition and we develop a competitive framework that unlocks investment.

However the window of opportunity is closing, so the sector is calling for a targeted action plan which addresses the immediate challenges. These include bolstering consumer confidence in EVs by investing in a faster rollout of infrastructure, extending support on energy costs and helping cash-flow constrained SMEs, while enhancing our global competitiveness to safeguard the future of automotive manufacturing.

Amid critical skills shortages, the industry’s future success relies on being able to attract the best and brightest people, irrespective of backgrounds, races, genders, cultures or abilities.

We were delighted, therefore, to launch the first-ever Automotive Diversity & Inclusion Charter this week at SMMT’s 105th Annual Dinner. 19 of the UK automotive sector’s companies, representing a fifth of the manufacturing workforce, alongside organisations including SMMT and Unite the Union, signed this landmark initiative to drive positive social change, diversify workforces and ensure an inclusive workforce that is representative of wider society.

The industry can play a significant role helping social mobility. Our chosen charity at this year’s dinner, Mission Automotive, are a good example of how we can work to improve the lives of those with challenges by providing not just employment but a rewarding career. Their inspiring work supporting ex forces personnel – often with some form of disability – to enter our sector is helping not just the individuals, but the companies they join. My thanks to those who were able to attend the dinner for giving so generously.

Our Annual Dinner also played host to the Autocar Drivers of Change awards, recognising some of the most creative and innovative individuals and their ideas. This year’s winners covered a wide variety of ideas that could positively change the industry, from improving disability access to mapping cityscapes to ease congestion and developing a new payment solution for car servicing.

Business Minister Nusrat Ghani joined us for the Dinner, and her speech recognised the critical role the industry plays within the UK economy and she remarked on the importance of our export strength. With the power to change lives and energise the UK economy while delivering on our net zero goals, automotive will be pivotal to the achievement of society’s aspirations.

Finally, I’d like to extend my appreciation to all those involved, especially our sponsors: Autotrader, Halfords, Pinsent Masons and Snap-on alongside our fantastic speakers. I hope to see you at the 106th Annual Dinner next year and I trust we will be celebrating a year of growth and success.

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