At the recent Test Day in the UK, SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt emphasised the importance of working with government to push the interests of the automotive industry.

It's a drum Everitt has banged before, but this time he was keen to highlight what he perceived was a uniquely British approach to political relations and the success of it.

The SMMT chief walks a tightrope between the vested - and valid - interests of his members - while at the same time trying to extricate maximum support from government in what are still extremely straitened times.

And he does it pretty well it seems. There appears to be a genuine dialogue with those in power who pull the levers - Business Secretary of State Vince Cable and his Minister Mark Prisk - as well as a whole host of related government departments that attract the attention of the auto industry.

Nowhere is this more evident in the Automotive Council part of whose remit is to: "Ensure a strategic, continuous conversation between Government and the automotive industry in the UK."

And Everitt appeared fairly pleased with how progress was being made through this body - also responsible for addressing supply chain issues - which includes some fairly high-powered individuals.

"A lot of focus is the relationship we have with government that is encapsulated with the Automotive Council - ministers and the industry sitting down," he said, before warming to his theme.

"No other country has this kind of work done. One of the interesting things is German industry is working very hard to replicate what we are doing. It is one of the few [areas] where the UK is taking a lead and the challenge is to stay in the lead."

Everitt also listed a host of SMMT initiatives including the 'Supply Road Map' and "See Inside Manufacturing,' that have placed the body at the forefront of building bridges to the political world.

The coffers are essentially bare at the moment - there isn't a great deal of room for largesse in the UK - but it appears there is a genuine relationship between the SMMT and government that bodes well.

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