Will this be a happy new year for the car industry in the UK or are its leaders worried about Brexit, new legislation and technology shifts?
12 January 2018

We've asked some of the biggest players in the UK car industry on their thoughts from 2017 and what they expect from the year ahead. 

What was the biggest challenge of 2017? 

Alex Smith - Managing director, Nissan GB 

"Volumes are down across the industry and consumer confidence has taken a knock so we’re now having to work much harder for every sales and aftersales opportunity."

Andy Barratt - Chairman, Ford of Britain 

"Matching our new vehicle range and supply to where customers and legislators are heading."

Andy Palmer - Chief executive, Aston Martin 

"To go from 3600 [cars per year] to 5000-plus has been a real challenge and it’s a credit to everybody working here."

Graham Grieve - Managing director, BMW Group GB 

"A reduction in consumer confidence, combined with the misinformation around diesel."

Jean-Marc Gales - Chief executive, Group Lotus 

"At a technical level, it is always a challenge to add lightness to our already lightweight sports cars."

Jeremy Hicks - UK managing director, JLR

"The unfair demonisation of diesel by the media and campaigners had a huge impact on our industry in 2017."

Paul Willis - Managing director, VW Group UK 

"Facing up to very challenging market conditions, yet still selling more cars."

What are the biggest challenges for 2018 and beyond?

Alex Smith - Nissan GB 

"Maintaining our leadership of the electric vehicle market. EV volumes will grow massively over the next couple of years and our rivals will be fighting hard to take our number one position."

Andy Barratt - Ford of Britain 

"The Brexit deadline of 29 March 2019 has been set and is the biggest external headwind we face in our European business."

Andy Palmer - Aston Martin 

"I think the biggest challenges will come from factors out of our control... Brexit, consumer confidence, legislation changes in China."

Graham Grieve - BMW Group GB 

"I remain very optimistic about the coming years. New technology is driving the transformation and we are well placed to bring this to market in the wide range of new models we will launch this year and beyond."

Jean-Marc Gales - Group Lotus 

"Clearly, there are new regulations and technologies ahead and we are in a much better position to embrace and adopt under [Lotus owner] Geely. A challenge for the automotive industry is always an opportunity for Lotus."

Jeremy Hicks - JLR

"Continued uncertainty in the marketplace caused by the government’s ongoing Brexit negotiations and consumer confusion around modern diesel technology."

Paul Willis - VW Group UK 

"Increasing competition and adapting to the changing ways in which the car will be owned and used."

Are you more worried about Brexit now than you were at the end of 2016?

Alex Smith - Nissan GB 

"Nissan continues to work with the UK government to ensure the company’s long-term success and investment in the UK."

Andy Barratt - Ford of Britain 

"More worried, as we don’t yet have clarification on the UK’s transition out of the EU nor our [final] deal with Brussels."

Andy Palmer - Aston Martin 

"In recent weeks, we have finally seen a coming together of the macro discussions between the EU and the UK, and that should give rise to the trade discussions."

Graham Grieve - BMW Group GB 

"The continued uncertainty is a frustration and makes it difficult to plan. As a company, we have made out position on Brexit well known. "

Jean-Marc Gales - Group Lotus 

"We are planning our business for a number of Brexit eventualities, but most importantly we wish for a soft landing."

Jeremy Hicks - JLR

"Once we have certainty about the terms of the Brexit deal, then we can get really excited about the future."

Paul Willis - VW Group UK 

"My job is not to worry about things I cannot change but to run a successful business... I want frictionless trade and we must be confident that this goal will be achieved."

Will 2018 be tougher than 2017?

Alex Smith - Nissan GB 

"We have to be smarter in the way we operate, but with challenges also come opportunities."

Andy Barratt - Ford of Britain 

"Ford of Britain has 15 new products across its car and van ranges this year... full of opportunities for a national sales company to attract more customers!"

Andy Palmer - Aston Martin 

"Generally speaking, 2017 was a good year, but you have to look at the pressures coming in for 2018 – whether that be Brexit or other volatility around the world."

Graham Grieve - BMW Group GB 

"Many of the pressures of 2017 will continue."

Jean-Marc Gales - Group Lotus 

"This year will be more exciting and definitely not tougher for Lotus."

Jeremy Hicks - JLR

"We will have more exciting products to offer UK buyers than ever. Yes, we need clarity on Brexit but we still have strong economic fundamentals. "

Paul Willis - VW Group UK 

"We have planned for a tougher year commercially in 2018."

What do you see as more important: autonomy or electrification?

Alex Smith - Nissan GB 

"Nissan has a strong plan and product offering in both of these areas but neither is more important than the other."

Andy Barratt - Ford of Britain 

"Further electrification is imminent, so its adoption and use with supporting infrastructure is more important in the short term."

Andy Palmer - Aston Martin 

"Between these two, it has to be electrification."

Graham Grieve - BMW Group GB 

"Both are important. Electrification is with us now and will become a mainstream powertrain choice in the short to medium term... Low-level autonomy will spread in coming years but full autonomy is a long way off."

Jean-Marc Gales - Group Lotus 

"If the market and legislation head towards one or other or both of these directions – which is likely - we will be ready with a Lotus solution."

Jeremy Hicks - JLR

"Electrification is here today and is a priority for JLR. Autonomy is well on the way and JLR is working intensively in this area. "

Paul Willis - VW Group UK 

"Both will be part of out future, with electrification affecting more people faster and sooner."

Read more 

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Comments
8

12 January 2018

Ford - "Further electrification is imminent, so its adoption and use with supporting infrastructure is more important in the short term." But as one of the biggest car makers they've not even got a true pure Electric production possible concept out yet, all they've done so far is put batteries and a motor in a Focus.

Ford pull your finger out because if it wasn't for the F150 you'd be slipping even faster down the world rankings 

 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

12 January 2018

means I don't much care about their products or concerns for the future.

12 January 2018

Three thoughts:

-The UK is one of the largest export markets for the German car industry. This will drive Brexit being 'ok on the night' as Germany has to make it work.

-Automotive margins have increased massively over the last 25 years. Perhaps it is now time for some margin contraction?

-The market was always going to move away from diesel but VW et al have sped this up. The manufacturers' need to stop moaning about it (largely because it causes them a short term CO2 problem) and accept the direction of travel and adjust their ranges to compensate.

12 January 2018

In the last 25 years, before Brexit, all the big French & German companies (including Ford & GM making all their vehicles in Germany/Spain), were making more profit selling their vehicles in the UK than in mainland Europe. Just compare UK car prices to European prices!!!

Now when faced with the consequences of Brexit, they are all moaning!!!!! whinging!!! The UK has been a dumping ground for their products for too long!!!!

12 January 2018

I am sure German sales lost to Brexit will be more than replaced in the very near future by sales to the emerging markets all around the world.

That is the trouble with the Brexiteers, they don't relaise that all the time they are harking back to the days of the Empire, the rest of the world is moving on.  About the only other world leaders that thinks Brexit is a good idea are Trump and Putin, which more or less says it all about what a morinic idea it is.

12 January 2018

Nissan are looking forward and seem to acknowledge that there is major disruption just around the corner. EV battery costs are dropping so fast that this must make a major impact in the next few years.

Unfortunately some others, notably JLR, are looking backwards a bit too much. I hope they don’t repeat mistakes from the history of the UK Motor industry in the 1960s and 70s - i.e. complacently refusing to adapt to new threats. The SMMT seem to have a similar position of inertia. That could be damaging.

 

12 January 2018

As the Century unfolds Cars are going to change radically,obvious you say, well, yes, less moving parts, no repairing just replacing, Cars will be the new ‘White goods’ so no really choice other than White, your choice of interior and what of new tech?, will there be new tech needed..?, all these factioids point to less People needed to produce a Car to produce parts,Car makers are going to have find a unique USP to get the sales, also, the knock on effect is there might be no need say in fifty years for Garages to have mechanics, maybe Cars will be fixed remotely...?, you know, your Car will be connected and any updates or detected faults will be fixed without needing to go in and waste time sitting waiting drinking aweful Coffee or Tea!, no Car makers better start thinking....

Peter Cavellini.

12 January 2018

What's put me off buying a new car is the disgraceful price rises in recent months. Every new model launch, or sometimes even just a light refresh, is accompanied by a huge price hike over the previous model now......as well as regular, frequent increments.

I also refuse to be suckered into a misleading finance deals either - i.e. "look at this low monthly figure" whilst hiding the not one, but two, lump sums to be paid before and after the monthly payments are finished, and the ridiculously high bottom-line list price!

That's why less people are buying new cars now you greedy, any excuse (such as BREXIT) blaming,  car manufacturers!

 

Everyone has a right to an opinion - don't confuse that with insulting your mother :-)

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