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    NAA Update: A transitional period for both UK automotive and the NAA

    Rowan shares some news about the NAA, forthcoming events, and of course Brexit…

    As the UK’s exit from the EU came and went last week, and the transition period set out in the Withdrawal Agreement commenced, little changed for UK businesses as yet another Brexit deadline passed. The focus now shifts to the end of 2020, when the transition period closes, with the hope that a new trade agreement deal is found; one that avoids expensive tariffs, which remains the primary concern for the majority of businesses in the NAA network I have spoken with. As an example of “looking to the future”, you’ll read in an article below that Bentley Motors, as it begins its next 100 years, is opening applications for its 76-strong apprentice, undergraduate and graduate intake for 2020. 

    And looking even further into the future, the UK Government this week announced that the last date to buy a new petrol or diesel vehicle (including hybrid cars) in the UK will be brought forward from 2040 to 2035. This should send a signal to all Northern automotive companies to review what they are doing about new business opportunities – including in the areas of electric vehicles and connected & autonomous vehicles. The NAA is here to offer you support as the industry makes the transition from ICE to EV, as well as with other changes – please take a look at our Automotive Business Opportunities page and PDF brochure, and speak to us to discuss how we can help.

    2020 also brings a transitional period for the NAA. I have made the difficult decision to step down from my role as CEO of the NAA, seeking a change of direction and pursuing new opportunities back home in Ireland. I have enjoyed my time with the NAA, in particular working alongside the wealth of individuals that make up the NAA network and indeed the wider automotive network, both regionally and nationally.

    I will remain in post until a suitable successor has been found, with the priority being that a high level of service and business continuity is maintained throughout this transition period. I am proud of the developments that have been made in the NAA, continuing to deliver new value and services to our members; something that will continue in our organisational strategy moving forward. My focus in the coming months will be business as usual! But furthermore, my focus is on ensuring that the NAA as a business is in a healthy position for handing over to my successor. Looking back on 2019, it was a challenging year for many UK businesses, and indeed for the NAA. 

    However, as we look forward to 2020 and beyond, the projection is bright for our organisation, as we will continue to support the automotive sector in the North.  I will continue to play an active role in the network and remain an ambassador for the NAA, albeit in a different capacity.  For those interested in applying for the Chief Executive role, or if you are aware of any potential candidates, the NAA Directors are currently accepting applications. Details can be found at

    I am also pleased to announce that the NAA is working with the prestigious UK publication Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine (MEM) for the promotion of the Northern Automotive Alliance as part of an Electric Vehicle & Automotive Supply Chain focus in an upcoming issue. The NAA will have a feature section in the magazine, talking in detail about the organisation, current projects, the NAA region and network and the future of automotive.  

    As part of this promotion, MEM have offered NAA members the opportunity to have their own editorial and photographic feature within the magazine. This represents an opportunity to talk about the great work your company does, products, projects and anything else. To get your feature in MEM or to enquire further please contact National Features Manager, Marc Thirkell on +44 (0) 1484 437314 or

    I would also like to signpost some forthcoming NAA events:

    • Discovering 3D Printing (3DGBIRE, Chorley, 12 February) – learn about how to make significant time and cost savings through the use of additive manufacturing in the Automotive Industry.
    • Discovering Cyber Security Solutions (Network ROI, Newton-le-willws, 24 March) – learn more about Cyber Security and ask questions during the interactive session. The session will be structured in a practical way that helps delegates to enhance their cyber security strategies of their organisations.
    • Also, upcoming NAA Events currently being planned include themes of Digital Skills (April), Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (April) and EV Battery Manufacture (June) – details to follow soon.

    To finish, I would like to share the sad news that Colin Smith of Smith Consultants, who provided IATF quality training and advice on behalf of the NAA, has sadly passed away. Colin was an outstanding professional, who made significant contributions to the automotive sector throughout his career, in particular through his assistance to countless companies in gaining IATF 16949 accreditation.  Colin was a funny, warm and kind hearted man who will be dearly missed. Colin’s funeral will be on Wednesday 12th February @ 2pm – St Bedes Chapel @ Teesside Crematorium. The family have asked everyone in attendance to wear a splash of red to reflect Colin’s love of the Boro!

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