The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on every political party to recognise the strategic importance of the automotive sector to the UK. The SMMT has created and launched “Manifesto 2030: Automotive growth for a zero emission future”.

The Society hopes to create the conditions for a 10-fold rise in annual battery electric vehicle (BEV) production to more than 750,000 units per year by 2030. This would equate to a cumulative £106bln worth of products at factory gate. Adopters of the manifesto will agree to five pledges to support the industry.

  1. A Green Automotive Transformation Strategy for a stronger economy
  2. Net zero mobility for everyone
  3. Green skills for a greener future
  4. Powering the UK clean tech revolution

Targeted growth depends on British plants attracting the next generation of electric models and scaling up an emerging EV supply chain – an ambition which shines a light on the competitiveness of the sector.

The SMMT said that although the sector sustained growth in new vehicle registrations, production output and manufacturing jobs, it faces fierce global competition as other countries offer huge cash incentives and subsidies to attract green manufacturing.

Tariff Threats

The threat of tariffs from tougher local content rules under the UK-EU trade deal, which come into force in just six months’ time, may further disadvantage the industry. It could make British-built electric vehicles less competitive in the UK’s biggest export market, while pushing up EV prices for British buyers just as the UK and EU try to accelerate their uptake.

The SMMT acknowledged that despite these challenges the primary strengths of the UK automotive sector remain relevant. These include a diverse nationwide supply chain, a highly skilled workforce, iconic brands, and world-renowned R&D capabilities.

Political Support

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The government has set the industry tough targets and we are committed to meeting them. However, we are in the middle of the most fiercely competitive investment landscape of a generation and need an urgent UK response, using every policy, fiscal and regulatory lever, to create attractive investment conditions in Britain. The automotive industry rises to every challenge, so we set out today a challenge to all political parties: back us with the right conditions and we will turn our obligations into opportunities for our industry, for jobs, for the environment and for the UK.”