CEO Update

Manufacturing investment boom bolsters sector confidence

24 November 2023 #CEO Update

UK Automotive’s attention was firmly on the Chancellor this week as he unveiled his much anticipated Autumn Statement with its plans for economic growth. Those plans follow last Friday’s £4.5 billion announcement for advanced manufacturing, over £2 billion of which goes to automotive – an unequivocal vote of confidence in the sector. That commitment comes on the back of a series of investments by yet more of our biggest brands, worth billions.

And the good news continues. Just this morning Nissan added further confidence to the future with its pledge to build new electric vehicles at Sunderland – a shot in the arm for the UK’s net zero transition, the economy and, of course, the many thousands of workers Nissan employs and sustains across the supply chain.

That investment is fundamental to the future success of our sector and we must have a framework that encourages it. That’s why this week’s announcement by the Chancellor to enable the permanent introduction of full expensing is so important. We must ensure we are open for business, and that we will match investment and multiply its impact. That means having mechanisms to leverage inward investment but also having a process that encourages it – and the implementation of the Harrington Review’s recommendations will play a pivotal role in streamlining and speeding up the process.

Before the week is through, we also expect the government to publish its long-awaited Advanced Manufacturing Plan and Battery Strategy following positive collaboration with the sector. Both will be critical in positioning Britain as one of the world’s most competitive locations for advanced automotive manufacturing, and we hope to see a final package of measures that will drive our industrial transformation, with a focus on skills, trade and clean, affordable energy.

Government’s recognition of our manufacturing sector as one of the most critical to the UK is gratifying and essential to future growth. But we mustn’t neglect the other integral part of our investment proposition – the market. Supporting motorists to transition to zero emission mobility is key to the UK’s attractiveness as a manufacturing destination and our ability to achieve our climate change ambitions.

Finally, in line with our focus on the future and attracting new talent into the sector, SMMT’s Charitable Trust Fund – in partnership with automotive charity Ben – announced the Drive to Thrive pilot scheme this week, an initiative that will fund driving lessons for new apprentices in the sector. The scheme will enable SMMT member apprentices to turbocharge their professional journeys and the future success of UK Automotive. You can find out how to apply here.

We’ll hear from Ben next week as our charitable partner at this year’s SMMT Annual Dinner. With addresses from our President, Alison Jones of Stellantis; the Minister of State for Business and Trade, Nusrat Ghani MP; and, as we head into a general election year, aptly timed political entertainment from Rt Hon Rory Stewart OBE, it promises to be a great evening. I look forward to seeing many of you there for what is always a highlight in the automotive calendar.

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