With MPs recalled to Parliament following the end of the Easter recess, and the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown proceeding as planned, it’s now time to ensure automotive sector competitiveness in the weeks and months ahead. 2020 was beyond tough, and the start to 2021 further challenging, with supply chain issues putting intense pressure on businesses as they continue to get to grips with our new EU trading relationship and deal with the pandemic.
The fundamental strengths of the industry, however, are not significantly diminished and it’s crucial that the UK positions itself as an attractive destination for investment which will be key to the sector’s recovery. The automotive industry cannot do this alone so all stakeholders must now work closely together on ways to boost UK automotive manufacturing capability and capacity while also ensuring the market for new vehicles is properly supported.
A key forum for such discussion and collaboration is the Automotive Council, founded in 2009, which directly brings together industry and government to work on a shared vision for the future of our sector in the UK. As the race to become world leaders in connected, autonomous and zero emission vehicle production and adoption accelerates, the wide-ranging work of the Council is a strength on which the UK must capitalise.
The Shanghai Motor Show, which took place this week, throws the pace of technological change into sharp focus, with a number of new, cutting edge electric vehicles launched by Chinese and other global brands. For the UK to keep pace with competitors a renewed commitment and collaboration is required. This will require investment – public and private in a range of areas; gigafactories for battery production, supply chain transformation, new technological development and innovation, digitalisation, infrastructure and, especially, upskilling are all central to creating a competitive business environment.
Automotive sector success, the importance of collaboration and new powertrain technology were key considerations for Richard Parry-Jones, and it was incredibly sad to hear the news of his death. Richard had an immense career working for many leading brands across the sector, with an unrelenting commitment to engineering and technology.
He was the inaugural chair of the Automotive Council, just one of his legacies along with some exceptional products that are the result of his expertise. The many tributes to him this week show what high regard he was held. He was a lovely man with time for everyone and he will be remembered and missed by all those that had the pleasure to work with him. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this difficult time.