CEO Update

Parliamentary agenda has to start as it means to go on

05 July 2024 #CEO Update

When the automotive sector succeeds, so does Britain. So as SMMT congratulates the Labour Party on its election victory, we look forward to working with the new government to implement its proposals which come at a pivotal moment for our industry.

The next five years will be decisive, with a once-in-a-generation switch to zero emission vehicles alongside the rise of connected and automated vehicles – all against a backdrop of rising global competition as countries seek to put their own automotive markets and manufacturing ahead of the game. The need for policymaking that backs our sector is as important as ever.

Automotive’s role as a driving force for economic growth is clear: our businesses employ 800,000 people in well paid and rewarding jobs across the country, we remain Britain’s largest export sector and we are essential to the nation’s decarbonisation goals. As SMMT’s Vision 2035 sets out, the right policies in the next parliament will be those that deliver a globally competitive industrial strategy, affordable and sustainable energy, a mass EV market, strong free trade relations and a workforce that’s skilled up for the future.

Indeed, the UK has the potential to build more than a million of the very greenest models every year by 2035, provided we can sustain investment though increased competitiveness. With the global industry shifting to EV production and manufacturers tending to locate near to where their products are sold, the new government must create the conditions for mass EV adoption in Britain. As SMMT data on the new car market published yesterday shows, we’re in an increasingly strong position to deliver that growth, with overall new car demand exceeding one million at the half-year point for first time since 2019 and electric car uptake increasing to take a 19% market share in the month.

Despite this, there is still much to do. Accelerating EV adoption requires a bold plan to make zero emission mobility possible for everyone, with incentives for EV purchases, fairer VAT on public charging and infrastructure that’s rolled out in every part the country, ahead of need. A plan for decarbonising light and heavy commercial vehicles, buses, coaches and minibuses – along with a dedicated infrastructure strategy – is also essential to keep Britain’s businesses, services and public transport on the move.

Britain’s progress towards those goals must begin now and with it will come huge economic, environmental and social benefits. Automotive manufacturers have invested vast amounts in the net zero emission transition over the past decade and while the commitments of 2023 were a massive vote of confidence, we must move even faster in the next five years. We now look to continue our productive partnership with government to ensure the long term success of the sector and all those who depend on us for their mobility, services and livelihoods.

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