CEO Update

UK must focus on its own competitiveness

14 June 2024 #CEO Update

With all major UK political parties now having set out their stall for the general election in three weeks’ time, whoever forms the next government must find a long-term strategy that supports our world leading automotive manufacturing base and vibrant new zero emission vehicle (ZEV) market – so that everyone, businesses and consumers, can thrive.

Manufacturers are investing billions to give motorists massive choice with more than 125 of the very greenest car and van models now available. Concerns over affordability and charging accessibility, however, remain significant barriers to mass adoption. Whatever the next government’s net zero ambitions, the market demands compelling incentives for private consumers and fleets along with mandated targets for a nationwide network of charging infrastructure rollout – for road transport vehicles of all sizes.

Given a flourishing ZEV market would make Britain more attractive for industry investment, measures to drive that outcome form part of SMMT’s Manifesto 2030. First published last year, it sets out the measures necessary to maximise our domestic sector’s global competitiveness. As well as diverse markets for passenger and commercial ZEVs, we need an industrial strategy that enables growth, sustainable and affordable energy, investment in future skills and a free and fair trade framework that guarantees industry access to existing and emerging markets, on a level playing field. This last point is timely, given the European Commission’s decision to impose provisional duties on Chinese-built EVs in a matter of weeks. We will monitor its impacts carefully as we await the findings and definitive measures.

Also timely as ever this year is SMMT’s flagship International Automotive Summit on Tuesday 25 June, with the central theme of the UK’s competitiveness in a changing global landscape. More than 20 speakers and hundreds of senior level representatives from industry, along with government and international media, are set to attend. With just two weeks to go, the final tickets are available here.

One industry leader who so often backed UK automotive competitiveness was Nick Reilly CBE, who sadly passed away this week. Nick was always incredibly insightful and able to boil complex problems into simple questions, something he did with patience and good humour. We were fortunate to have him as SMMT President from 2001, more recently as a guiding figure in an advisory capacity to SMMT and a Trustee of the SMMT Charitable Trust Fund, committed to getting younger people into the industry he loved. Nick will be missed by many in the industry and our thoughts are with his family and friends.

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