How to fix the UK's automotive industry

Nissan Leaf production line 2013

Zero-emission vehicles and niche manufacturers will be crucial for the industry’s future, says the SMMT

The SMMT represents the motoring industry – here’s its to-do list for the government

In its role of representing the UK automotive industry, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders under CEO Mike Hawes (pictured) has put together 10 things it believes the government needs to do to support the sector. Here’s what it wants, in its own words…

Tackle the energy crisis

The business energy cost cap provides short-term respite but UK prices were already Europe’s highest and will rise again. Industry is investing in renewables but needs a long-term, affordable, low-carbon national energy supply. Other measures include recognition as an energy- intensive industry and maintaining our climate change agreements.

Boost competitiveness

Create a globally competitive investment environment by extending the super-deduction or introducing a generous successor, enhancing R&D tax credits and reforming capital allowances and business rates to exempt net zero-critical plant and machinery investments.

Attract ZEV investment

Expanding the Automotive Transformation Fund will help win ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) and supply chain investment, alongside delivering battery and fuel cell gigafactories to serve production targets and attract vehicle and supply chain manufacturing. We also need dedicated strategies for critical minerals and components, including semiconductors.

Support a healthy market

Deliver a workable ZEV mandate and clarity on what can be sold in the UK post- 2030 to enable industry competitiveness, support consumer choice and drive fleet renewal. Maintaining the van grant to at least 2023, alongside zero VED and low company car tax, is also key to affordability.

Invest in infrastructure

A chargepoint mandate ensuring the right amount of the right type of chargers in the right places supporting cars, taxis, vans, HGVs, buses and coaches would accelerate adoption. Reliability and payment transparency is also key to consumer experience, while aligning public charging VAT with the domestic 5p rate will help keep charging affordable for all.

Get Brexit done

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) is a good deal for auto in principle but much has yet to be implemented. Launching all relevant TCA working groups, settlement of the Northern Ireland Protocol and future- proofing rules of origin to keep us in the global race to ZEVs are critical to future trade and investment.

Boost global trade

Negotiate new free-trade agreements and modernise older ones to increase market access, particularly for EVs and components. Government must also reduce red tape, duplication of regulation and lead time to market to meet customer demand, while increasing funding for export promotion to elp manufacturing and help manufacturing and aftermarket companies access new markets.

Support small-volume motor vehicle makers

We lead the world in the production of luxury, sports and specialist vehicles and need government to fight for these low-volume manufacturers to have access to global markets, avoiding super-luxury taxes and other barriers, and ensuring UK regulations enable them to make the ZEV transition.

Lead on future mobility

The UK has established a lead in regulating the development, testing and roll-out of self-driving cars and goods vehicles, and we now need further regulation to support the early commercial deployment of all self-driving vehicles, including in public transport and logistics.

Spend on skills

Manufacturers must maintain production of current vehicles and parts to service today’s market, while developing expertise to create and service new technologies, in relation to electrification but also digitalisation, automation and connectivity. A national automotive skills strategy would help reskill the workforce at pace.

Source: Autocar

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