UK must go “full throttle” in transition to electric, says SMMT

The SMMT has published a new report with a series of recommendations as to how Government can accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders ‘Full Throttle: Driving UK Automotive Competitiveness’ explains how Government can deliver manufacturing competitiveness in the transition to net-zero and help ‘level-up’.

In the report, the industry body called for a ‘Build Back Better Fund’, 60 GWh of gigafactory capacity and for an additional 2.3 million charge points to be installed by 2030.

The ‘Build Back Better Fund’ will aim to support industry transformation, not just in automotive but across other manufacturing sectors, to revolutionise production lines and overcome some of the areas where the UK lags in cost competitiveness or strategic support – from skills to energy costs. Most importantly, it says, the fund will help the sector transition to Net Zero and transform our existing manufacturing and supply-chain.

As well as this, the report calls for a binding target of 60 GWh of battery capacity be built by 2030. It states that 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.

The report cites that, unlike other major Governments, the UK has yet to back its ambition with a matching level of investment in production incentives, charging networks and affordable clean energy. Independent analysts predict that by 2025, the UK will have just 12 GWh of lithium-ion battery capacity, compared to 164 GWh in Germany, 91 GWh in the US or 32 GWh in France.

The installation of at least 2.3 million charging points nationwide before the end of the decade is also required, according to the SMMT.

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 concluded that these policies over the next decade could create up to 40,000 high-skilled jobs.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “Pressing full-throttle on the accelerator now to create competitive conditions for battery production and electrified supply chains, helping to transition from combustion engines to zero-emission transport and fostering a healthy consumer market means thousands of new, quality jobs can be created.

“Hitting the brake pedal could send the sector down a dead end. Production volumes falling, trade and economic value reduced and jobs lost, many of these in automotive heartlands such as the West Midlands and North-East. This would directly impact efforts to improve regional inequality. And any aspiration to “level up”.

“So now is the time for bold decision making. With the right conditions, the right measures and the right investment, the automotive sector can remain a driver of innovation, enterprise, growth and prosperity for the next 100 years.This ambitious report sets out exactly how we can do it.”

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