"“Within global manufacturing, the UK has been arguably the most successful location," SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes

"“Within global manufacturing, the UK has been arguably the most successful location," SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes

UK trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says it is confident any change of British government will see continued emphasis placed on the industry, particularly through the Automotive Council.

Britain is due to hold a general election in May next year, following the present coalition administration's decision to opt for for fixed term Parliaments, instead of leaving it to the Prime Minister's prerogative.

"Discussions we have had with other major political parties, I am absolutely convinced they will continue with support," SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, told just-auto at his organisation's International Automotive Summit in London.

"We are about promoting the industry and that is about promoting it [to] all stakeholders. We are trying to promote the industry and to do that you need consensus."

Hawes was speaking as data from the SMMT showed income generated by UK car exports more than doubled during the last decade from GBP12bn (US$20.2bn) to GBP24.8bn last year.

Alongside rising manufacturing volumes, the SMMT says the income surge is largely attributable to the shift to building higher-quality models across the country, doubling the average export value of a car from GBP10,200 to GBP20,640.

The SMMT chief conceded current strong growth rates were mainly due to the release of pent up demand following the severe recession endured by most Western economies and is expecting a more modest increase of around 6% by the end of this year.

Hawes insisted the UK automotive sector had weathered the recessionary storm well through its competitiveness, workforce flexibility and upskilling, which had all contributed to the rapid pace of recovery.

Despite the impressive performance of the British motor industry, Hawes maintained more needed to be done to persuade younger people of the merits involved in an automotive career, although this also was the case he said, in the retail, design and engineering spheres.

Part of the solution to promote people into the sector is to encourage current apprentices talk to young people in order to enthuse them about the industry said Hawes.

"We have done a lot of member visits and every single one of them has some [sort] of outreach programme, often getting apprentices to go into schools to talk about cars," he said.

"Young people will relate to other young people."

Government support also came in for praise from Hawes, although he cautioned the Treasury was still relatively cash-strapped as it grapples with the UK's debt and deficit.

"Government could always do more," he said. "[We] recognise government is operating in straitened times. The support they are devoting to the automotive sector shows the importance of this sector.

"Within global manufacturing, the UK has been arguably the most successful location. Why is that? Because the industry has increasing relation [s] with government, look at the Automotive Council."

UK car manufacturers produced more than 1.5m vehicles last year and are on course to pass the 2m barrier by 2017, according to the SMMT.

Around 80% of cars built in the UK are exported, half of which are destined for the the EU.