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    Industry Event Review: SMMT International Automotive Summit 2017

    The ninth SMMT International Automotive Summit brought together more than 300 delegates from across the industry, including 16 world-class speakers and 30 members of the media…

    As Brexit negotiations have started, the Summit offered the chance to discuss the likely implications and the challenges that may be faced by our sector. During the event, UK Automotive called on government to secure interim arrangements to safeguard future of UK motor industry and avoid a cliff edge.

    The launch of the SMMT Sustainability Report, the longest running of its kind, provided another key discussion topic for the event. UK Automotive turnover is now at a record £77.5 billion, a 9.0% increase on the previous year, contributing £21.5 billion to the British economy and employing 814,000 people. Industry also continues to reduce its environmental impact. In 2016, waste to landfill was cut by more than a third (-33.7%) to a new record low of 0.9%, with almost 90% recycled, while manufacturers continued to invest in onsite renewable energy production.

    Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT, opened the Summit, calling on government to seek an interim arrangement with the EU that would maintain membership of the single market and customs union until a final agreement on a new relationship with the EU is negotiated and implemented.

    Watch the speech here.


    Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover UK, called for balance and clarity in the diesel debate, citing research showing half of consumers don’t know what Euro 6 means.

    Watch the speech here.

    Ian Howells, Senior Vice President, Honda Motor Europe, gave an important insight into the impact of leaving the customs union on the sector and he used his speech to call for continued free and frictionless trade with our major trading partners. Honda’s just in time manufacturing requires 2 million parts to be delivered to its Swindon plant on 350 lorries daily, so the supply chain’s smooth operation is essential.

    Watch the speech here.


    Brexit Panel

    As our industry navigates the path toward Brexit, the panel shared their views on the likely implications of Brexit and progress of negotiations.

    • Chris Giles, Economics Editor, Financial Times
    • Bronwen Maddox,Director, Institute for Government
    • Frank Samolis, Partner and Co-chair of International Trade Practice, Squire Patton Boggs
    • Prof L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics, University of Sussex

    All four panellists agreed that trade deals are extremely complex and that it is very unlikely that the right deal could be achieved in the two year Brexit negotiation window. Chris Giles highlighted the importance of an interim arrangement, as no deal would be disastrous for business. Bronwen Maddox stated that the industry now has a window of opportunity to push hard for what it wants from a trade deal, something that all panellists agreed on, with Alan Winters noting that a broad trade deal was unlikely to meet the needs of the automotive sector.
    Watch the panel here.

    Retail Panel 

    With retail evolving, creating exciting new opportunities for automotive brands, the panel reviewed the current challenges facing the sector and discussed how new retail channels can help build consumer engagement.

    • Michael Martin, Vice President – Global Strategic Development, DHL Supply Chain
    • Ian Plummer, Manufacturer and Agency Director, Auto Trader
    • Tony Whitehorn,Chief Executive, Hyundai Motor UK

    All panellists agreed that the way a customer buys a car will not be the same in the future, with Tony Whitehorn stating that digitalisation is changing consumer behaviour. Ian Plummer agreed that the internet will be the driving force behind the new retail experience, noting that a blended retail model can significantly improve a brand’s customer journey by merging digital and physical retail touchpoints.
    Watch the panel here.

    Reshoring supply chain and UK content

    Following the launch of a new Automotive Council study on local vehicle content, its findings formed a central part of the debate, as did the impact of Brexit on the automotive supply chain.

    • Simon Anderson, Managing Director at LVS Small Plastic Parts
    • Mark Franckel, Group Chief Executive, Arlington Industries Group
    • Prof Matthias Holweg, Professor of Operations Management, University of Oxford
    • Mike Wright, Chairman, Automotive Investment Organisation

    Mark Frankel highlighted that the UK has been a fantastic place for investment into the supply chain and if we get Brexit right there could be positive outcomes. Matthias Holweg stressed that the UK is more competitive on a total cost basis than it gives itself credit for, while Mike Wright stressed that Britain needs confidence in its capability and Simon Anderson stated that a long term strategy from government will be key to future success.
    Watch the panel here.

    Sustainability – Future gains in production processes
    To coincide with the launch of the SMMT Sustainability Report 2017, this panel discussed the current initiatives being used to improve sustainability in the production process, highlighting their own case studies and experiences.

    • Alexander Law, Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability, Michelin
    • Mike Lomax,Head of Product Management UK, Bosch Rexroth
    • Paul Begley, Programme Director, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership

    All three panellists agreed that when it came to sustainability, the circular economy offers a real opportunity for the automotive sector, with sustainability and competitiveness coming hand in hand.
    Mike Lomax
     spoke passionately about the opportunities industry 4.0 can bring to the sustainability of both manufacturing and vehicle ownership, while all three panellists highlighted the need for all stakeholders to work together in order to drive forward improved sustainability.

    In the news
    See what the media had to say about SMMT International Automotive Summit:
    BBC – Carmakers call for transitional EU deal
    The Telegraph – Car makers cry out for interim Brexit deal to stop industry falling off a cliff
    The Guardian – Carmakers call for interim Brexit deal or risk falling off ‘cliff edge’
    Financial Times – UK car industry risks ‘permanent’ damage from Brexit ‘cliff edge’, trade body warns


    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham