As the automotive sector accelerates the introduction of zero-emission vehicles, despite supply shortages, the industry calls for a redoubling of efforts to improve charging infrastructure and enhance UK competitiveness.
A third of British made cars are now electrified, with more plug-in vehicles expected to be registered this year than in the last decade combined.1 However, if the sector – and society – is to achieve net zero on the back of British manufacturing, then some key challenges must be met.
Speaking at the 104th SMMT Annual Dinner, SMMT President and Chairman HORIBA MIRA Dr George Gillespie OBE, said, “We have invested billions in designing some of the most amazing electrified vehicles – over 115 zero emission capable vehicle models are for sale in the UK right now. We have inspired the public to buy these exciting vehicles in numbers never seen before, but here is the twist. It is so frustrating to find broken chargers, blocked chargers, multiple apps, confusing payment schemes. This is quickly going to turn a lot of people off electric vehicles and all our work in developing these fantastic vehicles will be wasted.”
Manufacturers are firmly committed to decarbonise cars and vans by 2035 but significant challenges remain. The global shortage of semiconductors is decimating production output and leading to delays in customer deliveries. The UK manufacturing sector is also hindered by high energy prices, uncompetitive business rates and additional trade costs compared to its competitors in Europe and beyond. Long-term strategies are needed to address these deficiencies, and close collaboration between industry and government will be critical if the industry is to remain internationally competitive. Given that automotive manufacturing produces Britain’s most valuable export good and employs some 155,000 people in highly skilled, well-paid jobs across the country, the importance of retaining this sector is obvious.