The impact of the pandemic on a critical industry such as UK Automotive – one which depends on global supply lines, strong consumer demand and a highly skilled workforce – was always going to be severe.
These effects are comprehensively set out in SMMT’s 22nd edition of its Sustainability Report released earlier this week. The report shows how economic and market growth have stalled since last April with many factories shuttered and retail closed.
Despite the adversity, the industry’s commitment and investment in zero emission vehicles has continued undiminished, delivering the best-ever single year of fleet average carbon reduction of -11.8%.
Automotive brands are also continuing to invest billions into the development and production of new zero-emission models, with more than one in 10 registrations in 2020 coming with a plug. Today there are currently some 130 plug-in models available for UK consumers, with 300 expected by 2025.
In addition to environmental achievements, social change is also high on the automotive agenda. Companies are continuing to invest in employee development, training, and apprenticeships. New jobs create more opportunities to increase the sector’s diversity, so it better reflects the communities from which it recruits and the market into which it sells products and services.
Indeed, one in eight people working for the report’s signatories is now female – the highest proportion since SMMT began reviewing gender –this figure is illustrative of how much progress still needs to be made to address diversity issues. All parties remain committed to progress across all business areas to create a more diverse workforce to drive this transformation.
The sector continues to look to the Government to ensure the framework, incentives and infrastructure exist to enhance our competitiveness and deliver the sustainable future society demands.
In spite of the challenges of the last 18 months, the industry has shown its strength, resilience and has it turned its capabilities to producing 130,000 PPE items to medical workers, ventilator production and assuring the nation’s mobility through the continued servicing and repair of vehicles.
Elsewhere, in the lead up to the return of a real-life presented next September, SMMT hosted the digital UK Pavilion at Automechanika Frankfurt this week. There was a great range of British aftermarket services and products in the “delegation”, and you can read more here.