CEO Update

Doubling up on growth and doubling down on charge point solutions

17 November 2023 #CEO Update

The latest quarterly heavy commercial vehicle registration figures added some warmth and a sense of optimism to an autumnal week, with both the goods and passenger vehicle sectors posting impressive growth. The all-important HGV sector notched up its sixth consecutive quarterly rise, while the bus and coach market posted a triple-digit increase to surpass even pre-pandemic levels.

There was further good news for the HGV sector, with zero emission trucks recording their biggest share of registrations in 2023 at 0.8% – double that of the previous quarter. However, for a market charged with being largely fully zero emission in just 12 years, it’s clear we need concerted action to boost operator confidence. This month, the North West became home to the UK’s first-ever dedicated public HGV chargepoint – good news indeed. But to make fleet decarbonisation a reality for all operators, the reality is that we need thousands more. A national plan for public and depot charging and refuelling infrastructure is urgently needed – something we hope to see mentioned in next week’s Autumn Statement.

The bus and coach market, meanwhile, is finally enjoying a return to ridership levels approaching pre-pandemic. This is a market well placed to deliver the benefits of mass green mobility across the country, so a renewed focus must be placed on unlocking the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding so that it reaches all regions of the UK in a fair and timely manner.

Decarbonisation is an ambition shared across manufacturing industries, and a report out this week from the Manufacturing Five, of which SMMT is one, lays out a five-point ‘manifesto for growth’. The report calls on all political parties to play a central role in creating a long-term plan to enable UK manufacturing to innovate and thrive – generating new opportunities and investment across all regions. It was a pleasure to join our fellow manufacturing trade association members in launching the manifesto in the Houses of Parliament, where we were joined by Ministers, Peers, MPs, government officials and, of course, representatives of the manufacturing bodies.

Finally, I look forward to seeing many of you at the 106th SMMT Annual Dinner on Tuesday 28 November. The event is always a highlight of the year when the sector can reflect on its achievements and look ahead to the next 12 months. With under two weeks to go there are only a handful of places remaining, so book now to avoid disappointment here.

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