Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Christopher Macgowan will leave on 31 December.

"It will be business as usual for the next seven months and I intend to leave at the top of my game," said Macgowan. "It has been a privilege working for the industry in this crucial role and I have enjoyed every moment of my nine years with the society.

"However, the fact is I have reached a point in my life where I want to do a number of different things, not just one full-on job. Being chief executive of the SMMT is arguably the best job in the industry, but it is also all-consuming. So come 1 January 2008, I am going plural."

SMMT president Graham Smith added, "Christopher is widely known and respected throughout the industry. On behalf of the SMMT I would like to thank him for his significant contribution, not only to the industry, but also to the effectiveness and strength of the Society. We will miss him and he will not be an easy act to follow."

Macgowan joined SMMT as chief executive in 1999, after leading the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF). During a rich automotive career he has worked for British Leyland, Massey Ferguson and, more recently, Ransomes.

He is a board member of CLEPA, the European component manufacturers association, a council member of OICA, the global vehicle manufacturers' body and current president of the industry's dedicated charity, BEN.