SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, says inward investment into the UK could create 15,000 new jobs in the next few years despite continuing turmoil in the Eurozone.

Markets are nervously eyeing financial and political events in Greece and Spain, whose vehicle markets have plunged, but the Southern Mediterranean travails are in stark contrast to those of their Northern neighbours in the UK and Germany in particular.

"In the UK, we have had a very difficult period [but] the first four months of this year have been surprisingly good," Everitt told just-auto. "The retail market is up more than 12% - life is not easy but there is interest and life out there.

"Car production is up 10% this year - a lot of that is destined obviously outside the UK such as the Middle East, Russia, China and the US. We have seen GBP5.6bn (US$8.6bn) of investment committed to the UK - General Motors is going to put the new Astra into the Ellesmere Port plant - that is a fantastic result for the UK. We expect to see those investments generate 15,000 jobs in the next few years."

Everitt also hailed the resilience of the UK supply chain to meet increased demand, insisting the sector could meet 80% of vehicle manufacturers' needs. He added the SMMT would be encouraging Tier 1 component makers to invest more and source from smaller companies as well as "moaning about banks" to free up finance.

"Our challenge is to up our game in supply," he said. "The SMMT and the government have recognised we have made huge progress but it is [about] translating the positive investment into the supply chain.

"We have a 'Meet the Buyer' event in July where key Tier 1 suppliers will be to identify potential partners here in the UK. We have to win on merit and deliver world class - there is no way round that.

"It has certainly been the case Tier 1s have tended to source from markets where they are more comfortable or into what were thought to be low-cost markets, but some of the big changes we have seen are some of those low-cost options have not really delivered."

The SMMT chief also noted GM's decision to award Ellesmere Port Astra production was not proof of a "random set of lucky breaks," insisting a decision by the plant's workforce to agree to more flexibility was a result of a "great job" by the site's trade unions.