Newly published industrial strategy outlines intentions to increase internally supplied parts
Sam Sheehan
27 November 2017

The UK government wants 50% of each British-built vehicle to be made from nationally sourced components as part of plans to make the industry more self-sufficient.

In the latest industrial strategy white paper, the government cites electric, autonomous and connected vehicle technology as opportunities to take “global leadership” and reduce the amount of imported parts in UK-made cars.

It reveals plans to boost government investment in technology-developing projects, training and partnerships, citing the new Coventry-based Advanced Propulsion Centre and Meridian autonomous car programme as recent success stories of this practice.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre, which features a battery facility due to be set up by Williams Advanced Engineering, is a government-backed organisation that opened in 2013 with the ambition of designing, developing and producing batteries in Britain with £1 billion worth of investment. Set to be used in low-volume, high-performance automotive products like the Aston Martin Rapide-E, the batteries will also be exported.

More recently, the government has begun its involvement with Meridian, which works alongside the Advanced Propulsion Centre to anchor a ‘cluster of driving excellence’ along the M40 motorway. The programme is designed to accelerate the development of connected and autonomous technology in Britain – directly benefiting internal car and tech companies and giving the country a key asset to export.

The government says in its white paper that projects like these have already pushed the percentage of UK parts in British-built cars up from 36% in 2011 to 44% in 2016. It intends to raise this further in order to make the UK more self-sufficient and less reliant on external producers.

Although not mentioned directly in the white paper’s automotive section, Brexit stands out as a likely catalyst for the government’s UK-centric plan. Recent HM Revenues & Customs department figures reveal that £35 million worth of vehicle parts are imported to Britain each day, emphasising the scale of reliance the country has on its neighbouring continent and highlighting the risk a hard Brexit (and the trade tariffs it could bring) would have.

Alongside calls for a free-tariff EU deal to be secured, industry experts have also warned that the government's latest plans for motorists, which include a new diesel tax hike outlined in the Autumn Budget, could harm the rate of progress being made in cutting-edge automotive technologies. The UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders CEO Mike Hawes told Autocar that the move will hinder "the ability of the industry and government to achieve CO2 limits" - suggesting the government's white paper ambitions could be impeded by its own policies.

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Comments
11

27 November 2017
Perhaps Aston Martin could start the ball rolling by using British built engines. ... and Rolls Royce, and Morgan.. and most of the others.

27 November 2017
Greenracer wrote:

Perhaps Aston Martin could start the ball rolling by using British built engines. ... and Rolls Royce, and Morgan.. and most of the others.

They don't have the economies of scale. An inhouse british developed engine would be at best uncompetitive.

27 November 2017

Tell that to Jaguar Land Rover.

Hmm... Aston Martin and JLR.

Now that's a Great British collaboration I'd like to see.

27 November 2017

Any more stupid ideas......

27 November 2017
Cobnapint wrote:

Any more stupid ideas......

What's stupid about it?

27 November 2017
Straff wrote:

Cobnapint wrote:

Any more stupid ideas......

What's stupid about it?

As long as it doesn't push the price of the end product up and make UK built cars uncompetitive. I'm surprised we already make 44% of the bits at home.

27 November 2017

You would have to think battery design will continue to evolve and taking a lead in this area can only be a good idea.

Self driving Tech though might be less productive as a continuous source of employment. Once you have a car system that drives itself, to a standard that is acceptable to owners, government and insurers then there would be little practical reason to change it.

Perhaps the government might be inclined to allow an upgrade form time to time and grant new licences for it's roll out? which would bring in money to treasury.

Uk car industry should also be benefiting from weaker pound, as they complained bitterly when it was higher, despite them being suspiciously quite on this now ;-)

As for tariffs, the uk exchequer would generate billions from the EU trade surplus with uk. This could be partially redeployed to exporting businesses if required.

Only the EU closing borders with UK would stop trade and even Brussels, probably, would not stoop that low. ;-)

27 November 2017

"As for tariffs, the uk exchequer would generate billions from the EU trade surplus with uk. This could be partially redeployed to exporting businesses if required."

Tariffs being paid by the buyer of course so it's just another form of taxation. Trump was making noises about this kind of thing too until he realised, or was made to realise, the implications in terms of inflation particularly in terms of previously cheap goods which would now become rather less affordable by the less well off.

27 November 2017

German cars in reality, only recently have Bentley made the w12 in the Uk but all bodies made in Germany

27 November 2017

The home grown UK auto supplier industry is already mostly gone. What remains are mostly foreign owned UK branches of global players. There are some exceptions, but not many. The industry is dominated by the US, German, Japanese and French OEMs, those countries after all have the largest auto industries.

It would be great if these OEMs invested more in the UK facilities, but they are waiting to see what Brexit ACTUALLY means. You can't blame the OEMs for being hesitant: if it's going to be a hard Brexit there simply is no point investing in something already at a major competitive disadvantage.

Historically, British head-quartered firms tended not to try and pursue custom from continental and world automakers, they were also badly effected by the compound decline of the UK manufacturers, so the die was set a long time ago. They were either too inward looking, too unambitious or too small. Much like the many British car brands, the supply base is also littered with long gone names: Lucas, AP, Brycrest, Rists, Smiths, Ferodo, Triplex, etc. Those that remain are relative minnows compared to their rivals.

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