Collaboration and sustainability needed for British automotive market to thrive

11 June 2018

11 June 2018

The future of the car, including design, manufacture and how it is driven, was debated at the recent SMMT Open Forum, taking place at Automechanika Birmingham in the UK.

Representatives from vehicle manufacturers and suppliers came together at the half-day conference to discuss latest trends shaping the future of mobility, and the need to develop the vehicle supply chain in order to cope with these changes.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes kicked things off on the day that May’s registration figures were released, telling the assembled crowd that the industry body expected a bit more stabilisation in a market that was susceptible to change for the rest of the year.

′One of the most important trends is the shift from conventional cars to alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), sales are growing but from a small base,’ he told the gathered crowd.

These views were further backed by Toyota Motor Europe managing director and SMMT president Tony Walker, who spoke about the importance of hybrid vehicles and how they would be a strong step towards electrification and changing peoples’ perception of technology. He also told visitors that as well as cleaner mobility, carmakers needed to understand the importance of sustainability in automotive manufacturing.

′We believe there are three megatrends to our industry, CAVs, zero-emission technologies and mobility solutions’. Andy Haslam of Aston Martin Lagonda added, before presenting the sports car maker’s seven-year, seven model plan.

Britain is well placed to be a centre of excellence for the development and deployment of these advanced new vehicle technologies, thanks to close collaboration between industry, government and adjacent sectors, most notably technology.

Moving to the next generation of mobility solutions presents a significant opportunity for the UK, with tangible social, industrial and economic benefits. The economic impact of connected and autonomous vehicles alone has been estimated at £51 billion (€57.8 billion) by 2030, with the creation of 320,000 additional jobs, 25,000 of them in automotive manufacturing.

Mike Hawes added: ′Collaboration across the automotive sector and beyond is essential if we are to create the technology and supply chain needed to design and engineer new mobility solutions. The industry is leading the charge, investing billions in developing innovative vehicles and vehicle systems that will redefine transportation and make our roads cleaner and safer than ever before. Events such as SMMT Open Forum and Automechanika Birmingham allow an open exchange of views and opportunities, essential to the creation of new opportunities for growth.’

Georgie Barrat, a technology journalist and presenter of The Gadget Show, who chaired the SMMT Open Forum, added: ′Has there been a more interesting time for the automotive industry? Seeing how the latest cars and mobility solutions are making use of today’s technological innovations, from voice control to artificial intelligence, is fascinating and I’m excited to be involved with SMMT Open Forum. With cars becoming increasingly connected and autonomous, packed with the latest entertainment, safety and low emission technology, the future is truly intriguing.’