Britain’s car manufacturers’ club, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), held its International Automotive Summit yesterday.
It has been a much bigger event in the past, but this one boiled down to half a day in London, probably because the organisers suspected the VW scandal would overtake everything. In fact, that subject did come up in the 8.30am pre-summit briefing, although there was a distinct feeling that we’ve entered a period when talking must stop and VW’s various acts of penance must begin – and roll on for years.
What was truly shameful, though, was the non-appearance of anything resembling a political leader. These people profess, at other times, to love the British car industry. Without quite saying so, they’d like you to think its achievements this past few years are mainly down to them. But yesterday, despite the suggestion in an early edition of the summit’s running order that an industry minister would show up, there was no one. Fair-weather friends and all that…
It was a good event, though, cheerfully fronted by the SMMT’s CEO, Mike Hawes, a definite force for good in tough times since his arrival from Bentley. The other ‘featured artists’ were pretty good, too. The real heavyweight was the BMW board’s tame Brit, Ian Robertson, who gave another of his dazzling presentations, leaving us in no doubt that electric propulsion will be the norm quite soon – as will connected cars, shared cars and all the rest. His case as irresistible.