UK car industry: Next government must secure single market access

The UK car industry has set out five automotive priorities for the next government, including securing access to the EU single market.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) report has been released during the run up to the June 8 general election.

As well as securing a free trade deal with the EU, the report called for a globally competitive business environment, an ambitious industrial strategy, strategic support for sustainable mobility and ultra-low emission vehicles and policies to ensure the UK secures the benefits of digitalisation.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “British car manufacturing remains in good health with the production outlook still very positive and significant new models due to go into UK production shortly.

“To guarantee future growth and investment into our industry and its vital supply chain, however, we need the next government to safeguard the conditions that have made us globally competitive, keeping us open and trading and delivering an ambitious industrial strategy for our sector.”

Around 1.7m cars were built in Britain during 2016, an increase of 8.5 percent on the year before and the highest since 1999.

The sector is responsible for 12 percent of the UK’s total exports and the SMMT has repeatedly warned that access to the single market is essential if the industry is not to be damaged by Brexit.

In 2015, more than 57 percent of cars exported from the UK were sold in the EU, while 81.8 percent of cars brought into Britain came from Europe.

The report reiterated that 10 percent World Trade Organisation export tariffs would cost the industry £4.5bn a year and increase the cost of imported cars by £1,500.

The SMMT also made clear that the next government must ensure that the industry has unrestricted access to EU workers.