Car makers today urged the Government to go ‘full throttle’ to boost the motor industry in post-Brexit Britain – publishing a 12-point plan to get UK car production up to full speed and create up to 40,000 new jobs.
That includes providing 2.3million public charging points by the end of the decade, so that motorists can actually charge up the electric vehicles that ministers insist the population must drive.
It says that support for the UK’s car industry will help the Prime Minister with his ‘levelling up’ agenda to bring prosperity to the UK beyond the borders of the M25 London Orbital, by creating the economic conditions under which it can thrive against competition from the Continent.
12-point plan for Boris: Motoring bosses called for more to boost the sector to help it recover from the pandemic and better prepare for the planned ban on new petrol and diesel cars
Highlighting that the shift to electrified vehicles is ‘the biggest challenge facing the sector’, it is calling for 2.3 million charge points by 2030, 60GWh of gigafactory capacity (which an expected Nissan announcement will go some way towards fulfilling), and a ‘Build Back Better Fund’ to help boost productivity.
And with a nod to the prospect of ‘pay as you drive’ road-pricing replacing traditional fuel taxes at the pumps and CO2-linked Vehicle Excise Duty, it calls on ministers to commission an independent review to consider the long-term future of fuel duty and car tax in a ‘decarbonised’ sector with electric cars.
Bosses stressed: ‘Industry has potential to gain 40,000 jobs this decade.’
But if ministers fail to respond, in a ‘worst case scenario’ the UK could be left ‘stranded’, face ‘precipitous decline’ and lose 90,000 jobs – mainly outside London and the South East.
The message was delivered by motor industry bosses at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ annual International Automotive Summit hosted in London, which was attended by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, his Labour opposition counterpart Ed Miliband.
The meeting was also attended by a host of industry leaders including Thierry Bolloré, chief executive of Britain’s biggest car maker. Jaguar Land Rover.
This SMMT infographic has been released this morning showing the importance of the motor industry to the UK economy
SMMT boss, Mike Hawes (right), addresses the International Automotive Summit in London on Tuesday morning. Left: Alison Jones, UK group managing director and senior vice president at Stellantis, one of the car maker bosses to also attend the event
The scene for the summit was set on Monday with reports that Nissan is poised to confirm plans for a massive battery gigafactory close to its Sunderland plant, in the North East of England, where the all-electric Nissan Leaf, as well as the Qashqai SUV, is built.
The plant would provide around 2,000 new jobs to supply batteries for the Japanese firm’s electrified vehicles.
Both the BBC and Sky News suggested the car maker will make an announcement this week – possibly by Thursday – after news broke earlier this month that the Government was in talks with six different firms – including Nissan – to build battery production facilities in the UK.
Reports emerged on Monday that Nissan is due to announce this week that it intends to built a state-of-the-art battery gigafactory in the North East of England by 2024
The new facility is likely to be close to Nissan’s factory in Sunderland to supply it with batteries for EVs – like the Leaf – produced there. Nissan will say it plans to build around 200,000 electric cars in the UK per year
Launching its report called ‘Full Throttle: Driving UK Automotive Competitiveness‘, the SMMT said the automotive sector is ‘an industry that warrants unambiguous backing.’
It pointed out that the automotive manufacturing sector employs around 180,000 people nationwide, contributes £15billion to the economy and is the country’s largest exporter of goods, stressing also:’ Cars and other vehicles take people to work and education, deliver food and goods and support our essential and emergency services, not least during the pandemic.’
Labour calls for public charger boost to end North vs South ‘gulf’
Labour says there is a north-south ‘gulf’ in available public charge points
The SMMT’s 12-point plan echos a new report published by the Labour Party this morning that suggests the Government needs to install another 127,000 public electric vehicle chargers across the UK by 2025 if the country is going to meet its climate change targets.
Currently there are just 22,790 public EV devices in the UK – 15 per cent of the 150,000 that the Committee on Climate Change says are needed by 2025.
The Labour Party warned on Tuesday that this will cause ‘a gulf’ between those who have off-street parking facilities and therefore access to charge points at their homes and those who will be ‘locked out’ of the benefits of EV ownership.
The opposition’s report also said that the Government’s recent decision to slash the Plug-in Vehicle Grant will price some families out of electric car ownership and create ‘two-tier transport Britain’.
Labour promised that – if it were to gain power – it would provide long-term interest-free loans for low-income families to help purchase a new and used electric vehicle.
It says it will also trial a national scrappage scheme, similar to the successful – but expensive – scheme in 2009 that helped to remove thousands of older polluting vehicles from the road and gave the motor sector a much-needed boost following the economic crisis.
It adds that it would also treat the rapid installation of public chargers as a ‘national infrastructure project’, with availability boosted in the north of England and the Midlands in particular where there is a lack of devices.
Finally, it said it would part-finance the creation of three new additional gigafactories by 2025 as part of an industrial strategy for the country’s automotive sector.
Commenting on Labour’s report, Edmund King, president of the AA, said: ‘To speed up the electric vehicle revolution, there is a long standing debate as to what comes first – the cars or the chargepoints?
‘The reality is we need both to happen at the same time, with particular focus on the 30 to 40 per cent of homeowners that have no access to dedicated off-street parking.
‘As well as making vehicles more affordable and increasing the number of public chargepoints, we need to ensure the cost of charging remains competitive.
‘Drivers will switch to electric cars with incentives and provided recharging costs remain cheaper than filling up with petrol or diesel.’
Some three-quarters of people aged over 17 in England hold a driving licence, and 95 per cent of car owners agree that their car gives them ‘significantly greater freedom and mobility,’ It said.
The strategy sets out a series of bold policy proposals for this coming year and remainder of the decade, covering also the Government’s ambition plans to scrap petrol and diesel cars in favour of electric only by 2030.
It says: ‘The UK industry has many strengths – the diversity of its companies, its engineering excellence, innovation, a highly skilled workforce and the strength of the UK market, but the global industry is fiercely competitive, and weaknesses must be addressed if its long term success – and the benefits that come with it – are to be assured.’
A ‘Build Back Better Fund’ is needed to help ‘revolutionise’ production lines and ‘overcome some of the areas where the UK lags in cost competitiveness or strategic support.’
It notes: ‘Most importantly, the fund will help the sector transition to Net Zero and transform our existing manufacturing and supply-chain.
‘The shift to electrified vehicles is the biggest challenge facing the sector.
‘Government is already working with industry to attract additional battery manufacturing to the UK but the report calls for a binding target of 60 GWh of battery capacity be built by 2030.
‘These ‘gigafactories’ would give British manufacturers the capability to produce up to one million electric vehicles a year and ensure tariff free access to critical markets in the EU.’
So that the public can actually charge the electric cars that ministers are forcing onto the public, the report calls for the installation of at least 2.3million charging points nationwide before the end of the decade.
It says: ‘This would ensure all drivers – especially those without driveways – have the confidence to invest in the latest zero emission technologies, investment that will not just support a healthy domestic vehicle market, but which will underpin mass market automotive manufacturing in the UK and help deliver the country’s climate change and air quality goals.’
The report makes clear: ‘The stakes are high. In a best-case scenario with the sector transitioning successfully to a zero emissions future, with ambitious global trading terms, there is the potential to gain 40,000 new, well paid and highly skilled sector jobs by 2030.
‘This would provide a significant impact in auto heartlands such as the North East and West Midlands, directly helping ‘level up’ the UK.’
But it also warns: ‘Without the competitive conditions, however, the UK’s automotive industry risks decline. In a worst-case situation, with the sector left stranded, analysis shows that around 90,000 jobs could be lost compared with the central scenario, with most of these outside London and the South East, increasing UK regional inequality.’
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘The next few years represent a critical period for the sector.
‘The pace of technological change is accelerating and the competition more ferocious. If we are to secure vehicle manufacturing in this country, with all the benefits to society that it brings, decisions need to be made today.’
He added: ‘The automotive sector is uniquely placed to help this government deliver on its agenda; to level up, deliver net zero and trade globally. The Government has made clear its support for the sector in its negotiations with Europe, so now is the time to go full throttle and take bold action to support one of Britain’s most important industries.’
SMMT’s 12-point policy proposals
Technology & Innovation
1. Commit to creating 60 GWh of battery production within the UK via gigafactories by 2030.
2. Support development of a fuel cell gigafactory with 2GWh capacity to support cars, heavier vehicles and rail by 2030.
3. A comprehensive, long-term skills strategy that supports auto needs plus greater flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy to support retraining.
4. Commit to UK becoming a global leader in developing, testing, trialling and deploying Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technology.
5. Introduce a new ‘Build Back Better Fund’ to support good manufacturing jobs for the future and help lower manufacturing costs.
6. Allow ‘net zero’ critical industries – such as manufacturers of low carbon, hydrogen and battery vehicle – to access the same benefits and compensation schemes as energy intensive industries and get more support within the UK Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).
7. Fund trial and demonstration projects to explore the use of hydrogen during manufacturing.
8. Ensure the UK tax system helps position Britain as an attractive destination for global investment.
Consumer, Market & Trade
9. Ensure that at least 2.3 million public charging points are in place by 2030.
10. Commission an independent review to consider the long-term future of fuel duty and CO2 based taxes like vehicle excise duty in a ‘decarbonised’ sector with electric cars.
11. Continue Plug-in Vehicle Incentives beyond their current term and exempt Ultra Low Emission Vehicles from taxation for the next five years
12. Work with industry to develop an ambitious, forward looking trade strategy, which targets the sector’s most important markets.
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