SMMT: Vehicle manufacturers play a crucial role in advancing the UK’s sustainable growth efforts by reducing carbon emissions

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By Car Brand Experts


Automotive Sustainability 2023 2
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The British automotive industry is calling on the recent Labour government to leverage the sector’s achievements in decarbonization for the benefit of the UK’s economy. A new study reveals that direct carbon emissions from vehicle factories have been cut in half over the last 25 years, positioning the country as an ideal hub for manufacturing the next wave of emissions-free vehicles.

The 25th Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Sustainability Report, unveiled today, displays a remarkable reduction of over 50% in CO2 emissions directly produced during vehicle manufacturing, compared to levels in 1999. This significant achievement stems from substantial investments by the industry. Furthermore, energy and water consumption per vehicle have seen reductions of 18.0% and 17.7% respectively last year, now standing at 33% and 42% below 1999 levels.

Automotive Sustainability 2023
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British manufacturers are also contributing to the reduction of on-road emissions by ramping up production of electrified vehicles in 2023, with a notable increase of 48.0%. Recent independent studies predict that with conducive investment conditions in place, the annual production of zero-emission vehicles in the UK could exceed one million units by 2035, driving economic growth through global exports.

The recent government’s commitment to an industrial strategy, alongside the published Automotive Sector Plan, signifies the potential for green growth in the UK, with the automotive industry at its core. Collaboration will be pivotal in enhancing the global competitiveness of the UK, attracting investments not only in vehicle manufacturing but also in related supply chains and sectors. Sustainable and affordable energy sources, fair trade agreements promoting UK-made goods globally, and a considerable market for zero-emission vehicles within the UK are essential. Moreover, a skilled workforce capable of designing, building, and maintaining zero-emission vehicles is critical for a successful transition.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, remarked,

The automotive sector in Britain has been actively reducing carbon footprints for decades, and this latest achievement is a significant milestone for both the industry and the nation’s journey towards carbon neutrality. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with the new government to advance its sustainable growth agenda, positioning Britain as a leader in global investment and sustainability initiatives. The automotive industry has the potential to lead these efforts further by driving down carbon emissions, boosting the economy, enhancing air quality, and creating new employment opportunities and skills nationwide.

The automotive sector plays a pivotal role in the broader UK economy, with automotive-related manufacturing contributing £93 billion and generating £22 billion in value added. The industry typically invests around £4 billion annually in research and development and encompasses over 25 manufacturers producing more than 70 vehicle models, along with specialized small-volume manufacturers. This sector is supported by approximately 2,500 supply chain enterprises. As a result, the industry significantly contributes to employment, with over 198,000 jobs directly in manufacturing and a total of 813,000 jobs across the automotive sector. Many of these positions are located outside London and the Southeast, offering wages approximately 13% higher than the UK average. The automotive industry also supports jobs in various key sectors such as steel, chemicals, plastics, advertising, finance, and logistics.

7 WAYS TO ENHANCE SUSTAINABILITY AS A STRATEGIC ASSET IN THE UK:

  1. Developing a comprehensive green automotive transformation strategy outlining a cohesive approach towards achieving ultimate sustainability and circularity goals in the UK automotive sector
  2. Implementing a set of fiscal, tax, and regulatory incentives to attract new investments and ensure the global competitiveness of domestic vehicle manufacturers
  3. Providing support and guidance to strengthen a sustainable and transparent supply chain in the UK
  4. Empowering a skilled, diverse, and well-equipped workforce in the UK
  5. Establishing a robust UK regulatory framework in partnership with businesses that aligns with global regulatory standards and sustainability objectives
  6. Aligning UK sustainability data requirements with the high standards set by automotive companies operating in global markets
  7. Ensuring access to critical raw materials and facilitating cross-border trade to enhance supply chain resilience and attract investments in zero-emission and sustainable technologies

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2 SMMT Vision 2035, page 7

SOURCE: SMMT

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