“A competitive supply chain is a vital ingredient in a successful automotive industry" - SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes

“A competitive supply chain is a vital ingredient in a successful automotive industry" - SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes

UK trade association, SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders), says it is looking to increase British local content on vehicles to 50%.

The issue of domestic component supply has long vexed the UK automotive sector, but with its resurgence which has seen 27 consecutive months of new registrations growth, the SMMT believes the time is ripe to target the British supply chain.

"The main focus is how can we improve the content of the cars made here," said SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, at yesterday's (25 June) 'Meet the Buyer' event in London bringing together suppliers and purchasers.

"It is around 33%-34% compared with Germany which is about 60% local content. We have the capability to make it up to 80%, but we want to move [from] one-third/two-thirds split to something approaching even."

Hawes cited the role of the UK government through the auspices of the Automotive Council in helping to promote localised content and to that end, the SMMT chief was flanked at the event by British Business Minister, Michael Fallon, who unveiled a GBP24m (US$41m) Tooling Funding Programme.

"A competitive supply chain is a vital ingredient in a successful automotive industry," said Hawes. "Yet many UK suppliers have found it difficult to access funding, restricting their ability to exploit local opportunities created by the expanding vehicle manufacturing sector.

"The new Tooling Funding Programme is a welcome initiative, which should help UK component manufacturers compete and win new business."

The SMMT chief executive stressed the continuity of the Automotive Council - originally set up under the auspices of former Labour Business Secretary Peter Mandelson - no matter what the political hue of the day.

"That [Council] was taken forward by the [UK] coalition government," said Hawes. "It is a broad church in there and it is absolutely critical to addressing issues around skills."

Hawes added forecasts were predicting the UK would surpass its all time record in 2017, producing around 2m vehicles for the first time since 1972.

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