UK automotive manufacturers have a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to capitalise on the emergence of low-emissions and electric vehicles as the sectors grow in tandem with ever-more efficient internal combustion engines, says a government analyst.

Addressing this week's SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) Open Forum in the UK city of Worcester, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills automotive sector analyst, Phil Davies, highlighted the potential for British manufacturers to capitalise on the low-emission sectors.

"We really need to develop a market for ultra-low emission vehicles," said Davies. "The world is going towards at least some form of electric power.

"There is a once in a lifetime opportunity for UK manufacturers to be involved and of course [gain] market share. We make products the world wants to buy and we need to continue to do that."

To aid that development, the Business Department analyst noted the UK supply chain was fairly strong but "our problem is, we have not got enough of it."

The UK is slowly emerging from one of the deepest and most prolonged recessions in a generation and Davies added the government would aid the automotive sector if the business case was strong enough.

"We need to build a talent pipeline - we will strategically support advanced manufacturing," said Davies. "If you have a good enough argument, [UK] Treasury will listen."

One of the most striking initiatives to come out of the UK in recent years has been the Automotive Council established in 2009 and part of whose remit is to develop 'technology roadmaps' for low-carbon vehicles and fuels, as well as provide a conduit between the industry and government.

However, Davies was at pains to point out the resurgence of the UK sector was primarily driven by the industry, rather than any centralised planning.

"There is a key message I want to get across," he said. "This is our strategy, this is not government foistering some grand idea that will get forgotten tomorrow."

The UK is currently riding a wave of automotive optimism that has seen it buck the downward trend seen across much of Europe.

SMMT data showed output rising 16.2% in August to 91,282 units, up 12,705 units compared to the same month a year before.