CEO Update

Attracting investment is key to electrifying UK Auto

03 February 2023 #CEO Update

Last week SMMT data revealed that UK production of electrified vehicles reached record levels last year, with almost a third of all cars made either fully electric or hybrid and worth £10 billion in exports alone – success built on decades of inward investment. Today, we are at a critical point and need to attract the next round of financial commitments to drive our sector’s zero emission transition.

The foundations of the sector are strong: we are leaders in advanced manufacturing and engineering, strong on R&D, strong on innovation and underpinned by a highly productive, skilled, and flexible workforce – strengths upon which we must build.

There is a threat, however, with increasing global protectionism on the agenda and, while introducing measures to develop green investment are understandable, we must avoid an “arms race” that leads to unfair competition and market distortions. Recent measures in China, the US with its Inflation Reduction Act and now the EU’s response could put the UK at a disadvantage. We need a framework and pitch that allows us to compete and delivers sustainable projects, long-term economic growth and rapid decarbonisation.

The UK remains dedicated to the net zero agenda, but to deliver this ambition automotive investment must be attracted now. This was highlighted last week in the Chancellor’s speech, which encapsulated a welcome vision for growth. As a highly productive sector, critical to the new low carbon economy, that supports high value jobs across the UK, automotive is uniquely placed to deliver. Practical measures that boost competitiveness are needed, alongside fiscal support to alleviate spiralling energy costs and a reform to business rates to help rather than hinder growth. This would not only deliver long-term economic growth, but also help ambitions for net zero, levelling up and global trade targets.

Ensuring electric vehicles are engineered and built in Britain will be an integral theme at SMMT Electrified 2023. Taking place on 16 March, the annual event will host experts from across automotive and associated industries, as well as speakers from government, who will discuss the UK’s path to electrification.

Key speakers announced include Alison Jones, Senior Vice President at Stellantis; Peter Bosch, Member of the Board (Manufacturing) at Bentley Motors; Rachel Fletcher, Director for Regulation and Economics at Octopus Energy; and Claas Bracklo, Chairman at ChairIN.

The box office is open now and SMMT members are eligible for one complimentary ticket per organisation. For more information and to book your place while tickets are still available, please contact

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