- SMMT says ‘urgent action’ is needed to help UK compete for electric vehicle production
- Large-scale US and EU initiatives have left Britain behind
- Bosses at Chinese manufacturer BYD have told the FT they are not considering the UK to build a car plant.
The UK’s ability to compete internationally in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) will be at risk if it does not respond urgently to large-scale US and European Union initiatives to support the industry, the auto industry body warned today.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the government needs to take urgent action to respond to “tough competition” from other countries.
Reducing energy costs, accelerating the financing of clean technology projects and expanding free trade agreements are among the measures included in the SMMT plan to determine how to stimulate the production of electric vehicles.
The SMMT call to action follows reports that Chinese auto giant BYD has already ruled out the UK for its European production site.
The UK’s ability to compete internationally in electric vehicle manufacturing is at risk unless the government responds urgently to fierce competition, the auto industry body said.
SMMT launched the Automotive Industry Green Transformation Strategy, which called for more generous subsidies and reduced red tape for proposed battery manufacturing schemes.
The trade body said its plan would make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world for advanced automotive manufacturing.
He stressed the need to respond to the $369 billion (£309 billion) Inflation Reduction Act in the US and the Green Deal Industrial Plan in the European Union, which included steps to boost electric vehicle production.
Fully electric or hybrid vehicles accounted for nearly a third of all vehicles produced in the UK last year, with an export value of £10bn.
And with sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans banned in the UK and other European countries from 2030 onwards, manufacturers are already adapting their global production sites to increase electric vehicle production.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes has warned the government that Britain risks “squandering its edge” when it comes to electric vehicle production.
SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The UK boasts a solid electric vehicle manufacturing foundation, backed by low-carbon energy, outstanding research and development (R&D) and a highly skilled and productive workforce.
“We must not miss out on these benefits.
“As other parts of the world actively support the transition of zero emission cars, we need to step up to participate in this global race.
“Every part of the country has a stake in the transition and with swift and decisive action we can ensure the UK has the growth, jobs and green prosperity this country deserves.”
There are already serious concerns that the UK is lagging behind globally in the electric vehicle arms race.
Shelved: Britishvolt planned to build a £3.8bn gigafactory near Blyth that would produce 300,000 batteries a year for UK-made electric vehicles but would instead focus on energy storage.
A range of problems, from a shortage of charging stations to the collapse of British start-up Britishvolt, which plans to build a £3.8bn car battery gigafactory, have highlighted the lack of investment in Britain’s green revolution.
The latest blow has come in China, with reports emerging over the weekend that BYD, which is the world’s biggest seller of electric and hybrid cars, had already ruled out the UK for its European car plant.
The company recently released its first available model in the UK – the Atto we drove last week – as it launches its push into the European market, with plans to have 10 battery cars on sale by the end of the decade and place itself among the best. three brands of electric vehicles on the continent.
Car production in Europe is fundamental to his plans, but the UK is not on the shortlist — Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Hungary are considered instead. reports in the Financial Times.
European President Michael Shu told the FT that the brand wants to invest in a “stable” country to secure the future of its production site.
“Maybe without Brexit. But after Brexit, we don’t understand what happened,” he said.
“The UK doesn’t have a very good solution. We didn’t even have the UK on the long list.”
BYD told the FT it had made a UK discount for its European car plant. Last week we drove the first UK-available model from the Chinese brand Atto (pictured).
Only two mainstream electric vehicles are currently produced in the UK – the Nissan Leaf in Sunderland (pictured) and the Mini Electric in Oxford. BMW has already confirmed that production of the new battery-powered Mini (due later this year) will be moved to China in partnership with Great Wall Motor.
Only two major electric vehicles are currently produced in the UK, the Nissan Leaf at the Sunderland plant and the Oxford-built Mini Electric. However, BMW has already confirmed that the new battery-powered Mini due this year will be made in China through a partnership with Great Wall Motor.
The level of concern about the future of electric vehicles in the country is so high that rival MPs have accused the government of “sleeping at the wheel”, especially in light of plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
Former Aston Martin and Nissan chief and “godfather of electric vehicles” Andy Palmer said earlier this month: “There will be winners and losers.”
He said on the BBC Today programme: “If the UK wants to continue in the automotive industry, it will have to compete with both the US and the EU in terms of these stimulus packages.”
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