The UK's Automotive Council believes R&D in the UK can grow under the new government

A recent key two-hour meeting, between an engineer and a politician who had never previously met, could have enormous implications for the health of the UK’s part-thriving, part-struggling automotive manufacturing and supply industry.

The protagonists — newly appointed business secretary Vince Cable and former Ford worldwide product chief Richard Parry-Jones — are co-chairmen of the Automotive Council, an advisory body of two dozen top industry leaders set up two years ago to clear the lines of communication between government and the motor industry.

Official details and pics on the Murray T25

Its job is to attract foreign investment, advise on legislation, help target government funding and work to improve the fortunes of an industry that employs well over a million people, pumps £10 billion annually into the UK economy, invests more in R&D than any other and represents a huge part of what is still the world’s sixth largest manufacturing economy.

After a promising start under the leadership of Parry-Jones and Lord Mandelson, the Automotive Council has faced months of election uncertainty. But things took an abrupt upturn several weeks ago when Cable signalled his willingness to succeed Mandelson as council co-chairman. “We have another heavy hitter in the fold, says Parry-Jones. “We want to hear his fresh ideas.”

Parry-Jones, co-chairman of the council, believes the task for the council is huge, but the rewards are greater. “The first task is to get the industry’s fundamentals right, and we won’t win every battle on the way. Our steady aim over the next five years must be to build an industry that can grow sustainably after that. It’s a challenge, but a great goal.”

One early task will be to find a better way to direct existing government funding. “At present there are several competing bodies that do this,” says Parry-Jones, “but it needs organising. We’re not asking for more money, just a better framework.”

The council visualises one entity, tentatively called Testbed UK, responsible for identifying targets, dispensing funds and monitoring results.

Steve Cropley

Join the debate

Comments
2

8 July 2010

Something they should have a look at is promoting engineering as a worthwhile and satisfying career for youngsters . Oh and it is not bad to earn a living getting your hands dirty .

How about subsidising apprentices properly again so companys can afford to take youngsters on . I mean proper apprenticeships too none of this short term rubbish .

8 July 2010

I have a USA patent for an auto safety invention.

It can save fuel and lives.

The idea is free to use outside of the USA .

www.safersmallcars.com

I would like a non US car company to use my invention.

This would encourage US car companies to adopt my invention.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron UK review
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    First UK drive finds the facelifted A3 Sportback e-tron remains a first-rate plug-in hybrid that is packed with tech if a little short on driver appeal
  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka