Another week, another landmark announcement for the sector with the news that BMW Group will invest £600 million in its British plants, securing the long-term future of the home of one of the world’s most iconic brands – MINI. It’s yet another vote of confidence in our advanced automotive manufacturing sector and underscores our capabilities in electric vehicle production.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Stellantis last week starting van production at their Ellesmere Port factory and, before that, massive, multi-billion-pound EV commitments from TATA, JLR, Ford, Bentley, Nissan and Envision. All have been drawn to the UK by our clear advantages – a skilled, highly productive workforce, cutting-edge plants, a diverse supply chain, world-class R&D, green energy supply and essential collaboration with government.
We must continue to promote all these assets as such investments improve productivity and deliver jobs, growth and economic benefit for the country. So there is no room for complacency; our offer must always be competitive in the face of fierce global competition. A green industrial strategy will be key to a compelling UK offering.
Our industry’s success has always been based on the principles of free and fair global trade. The European Commission’s anti-subsidy investigation into electric vehicles imported from China into the EU is a significant moment and we will monitor the situation and carefully assess the potential for any impact on the UK.
The immediate priority, however, is the forthcoming introduction of over-demanding origin requirements for batteries, which would add damaging tariffs to EVs traded across the Channel. With this prospect less than four months away, an urgent agreement to postpone its introduction is vital to businesses in the UK and Europe. EVs are already more expensive than ICE equivalents, any additional costs risk undermining not just our competitiveness but also the market for the very vehicles that will reduce carbon emissions across borders.
With the news and political agenda firmly focused on automotive and electrification, Monday’s SMMT Electrified event could not be more timely. I am delighted that Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, Secretary of State for Transport, will be joining us to deliver a keynote address. The event is now sold out, but you can register for the waiting list by clicking here. I look forward to seeing many of you there.