On the road again
The UK remains the number one location in Europe for automotive investment and continues to be at the forefront of advanced vehicle design and technologies. Our strength as a production base means there are more car makers here than anywhere else in Europe and some of the worldâs most efficient car plants, backed up by a highly skilled workforce.
Christopher Macgowan, Chief Executive, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited
The UK motor industry is a manufacturing and R&D success story. Never before have so many manufacturers been producing such high-quality vehicles in so many different places, and so successfully. The UK boasts more volume vehicle manufacturers than any other EU country.
In addition to those making and supplying the volume car market, Britain has a host of commercial vehicle, niche and sports car manufacturers, as well as a supply chain working hard to improve its productivity in a competitive global market. It?s an industry that supports over 7,000 companies with a workforce that is highly skilled, technologyfocused, producing high value and sustainable products for the future.
The UK remains a great place to make motor vehicles. More than 1.6m new cars and 200,000 commercial vehicles were manufactured in the UK in 2004 and, despite recent events at MG Rover, there is every hope that this level will be met during the coming 12 months. Motor manufacturers and the supply chain are continuing to invest in the UK. Nissan, for example, has recently announced a fifth model to be manufactured in Sunderland, Honda?s Swindon plant is now the most profitable automotive manufacturing site in the country, and BMW can?t make enough MINIs to meet worldwide consumer demand. Halewood in Merseyside remains one of Ford?s most efficient manufacturing facilities in the world, and Toyota has recently announced a £11.2m training centre to be built at Burnaston, Derbyshire.
|The UK boasts more volume vehicle manufacturers than any other EU country|
One of the most successful parts of the industry ? but perhaps least well appreciated ? comes in the design, manufacture and testing of engines. This is one element of the industry with one eye firmly on the future. Over three million automotive engines were produced in the UK in 2004, worth over £1.8bn to the UK economy. The UK has also rapidly positioned itself as a global centre for automotive engine design, R&D and manufacture. Many of the world?s leading companies have invested here, using expertise developed by British companies and a dedicated workforce.
When it comes to new technology, new innovation and its effects, the UK continues to lead the world. New cars are becoming increasingly fuel-efficient and CO2 emissions continue to fall. The average CO2 emission from a new car in 2004 was 172.1g/km, a fall of 9.3% since 1997. An impressive 15% of new cars have levels of below 140g/km, leaving the industry on course to meet our industry emissions targets. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT) also has a central role in the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, helping to formulate a co-ordinated approach to meeting the low carbon future.
Research and development is key to the industry?s success in the future and this is where the SMMT-managed Foresight Vehicle programme plays an important role. The programme helps companies in the UK to benefit from the range of funding to boost research and development. Foresight Vehicle aims to promote technology and stimulate suppliers to develop technologies for future vehicles.
More than 400 companies from all over the UK and throughout the supply chain, as well as some of the country?s most prestigious universities have so far participated in SMMT Foresight Vehicle. The organisation recently published its second Technology Roadmap, pinpointing the best opportunities for future global success by identifying how vehicle markets, products, systems and technologies might evolve over the next 20 years.
Addressing the skills shortage is a priority that the industry is driving forward through the Automotive Academy. The Academy is a unique organisation designed to enhance the skills of Britain?s motor-manufacturing industry, its productivity and competitiveness. Supported by the country?s leading automotive companies, the Academy is developing a national approach to training, validating approved courses, providers and assessors.
The Automotive Academy is developing a national approach to promote skills at all levels
The programmes being established by the Academy promote skills improvements at all levels, from shop fl oor right through to the boardroom, encompassing technical, leadership, management and support programmes. In the next 12 months we will see more programmes being rolled out nationally.
The Academy is based in the heart of the UK automotive industry, Birmingham. The central hub will be supported by a network of regional spokes. The Academy now has four active spokes with a further three well into their formation stages. The hub has the responsibility of validating training courses, providers and assessors. The spokes will act as agents for the Academy, providing a ?one-stop shop? to help companies with their training and funding requirements. They will provide a regional focus helping to improve the skills base in the automotive industry in their local area.
Despite some negative media coverage relating to UK motor manufacturing, the UK industry is proving itself to be resilient. With interest rates starting to rise, British consumers has been reluctant to invest in large purchases. However, 2004 was a near record year for new car registrations and with some fantastic new models in all segments, and strong competition in the market place, 2005 looks like being another strong year, expected to be just 4% lower than the 2.56 million units in 2004.
Some of the major challenges we face relate to legislation and regulation. In SMMT?s annual issues survey of senior automotive executives, 95% of respondents said that new legislation would significantly increase costs in the next five years, particularly in environment and employment. The automotive sector in the UK is thriving. We have more facilities than any other EU country, making high quality vehicles. Manufacturers have made significant improvements in reducing tailpipe emissions, improving safety and cutting CO2 emissions in all vehicle models and types. It is also making significant progress in reducing emissions, cutting waste and investing in lean products and manufacturing processes, all of which is helping to deliver practical solutions to difficult global problems. This is a real challenge and we, as a UK motor industry, are committed to doing all we can to meet it.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (SMMT) The SMMT is the leading trade association for the motor industry. It represents the interests of a sector that is one of the biggest contributors to the economy, supporting more than 850,000 people. The sector is the UK?s biggest manufacturing sector, accounting for a manufacturing turnover approaching £45 billion and 9.3% of total UK output. The SMMT?s role is to represent some 600 companies ranging from vehicle manufacturers, component and material suppliers to power train providers and design engineers.