CEO Update

How global auto trade can drive the UK to net zero

13 October 2023 #CEO Update


Automotive is one of the UK’s most important sectors, ideally placed to drive net zero and boost the economy, but if we are to deliver on our potential then we must have free and fair global trade. This will be the central theme at our second Global Trade Conference, returning to screens worldwide next week on 18 October. Delivered entirely online given the global audience, it will see the launch of our latest Trade Report and I am pleased to announce that the Shadow Minister for International Trade, Gareth Thomas MP, will join us to deliver the political address.

The Conference will also welcome senior global automotive executives, policy makers and trade experts who will deliver insights through keynotes and panel discussions – focused on automotive opportunities in Asia, Africa, the Indo-Pacific and North America, alongside other global markets, with perspectives on how best to energise trade policy for automotive’s net zero revolution. This invaluable event is free to attend, and you can sign up here.

Trade and the net zero transition were also on the agenda at the last of the UK’s party conferences this week, and SMMT was on the ground in Liverpool as Labour announced its Automotive Strategy. We were pleased to see the adoption of so many of our key recommendations designed to supercharge and futureproof our sector: accelerating battery making capacity, cheaper energy and upskilling our workforce to name just a few. Moving the market and the manufacturing bases which power it to a decarbonised future depends on a cohesive strategy, catering for the needs of business and, critically, the consumer.

Consumers are the key to this transition and we need them to invest now. The forthcoming Autumn Statement is the Chancellor’s opportunity to help them do just that and we hope he will use it to deliver the concrete, fiscal support required to help consumers – especially private consumers – make the transition. Doing so would ensure fairness in affordable, accessible zero emission transport for all drivers.

And it is not just car owners. This focus must also extend to the commercial vehicle sector – whose importance to the UK economy and, indeed, to trade across our country and further afield – cannot be underplayed. With 46,789 vans, trucks, buses and taxis exported this year already, manufacturers are continuing to invest billions to deliver ever greener, safer and more cost-effective vehicles and equipment. So, it is good news indeed that the CV Show, Britain’s biggest expo for commercial vehicles, has this week launched for 2024.

Returning to the NEC Birmingham on 23-25 April, the event will benefit from the well-timed addition of an all-new conference focused on key business-critical themes – decarbonisation, technical, people and skills. More than 300 exhibitors are expected to present the latest vehicles and technology to around 12,000 operators, and the event will provide an unmissable opportunity to gain critical knowledge and insight into how the industry will meet its net zero goals. To join us, please visit here for tickets – I hope to see many of you there.

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