UK’s net zero ambitions remain a pipe dream without industrial strategy, warns RSM

27 July 2023

Richard Bartlett-Rawlings, partner and automotive manufacturing specialist at RSM UK, comments: ‘In June, UK car production saw an uplift of 16.2% (84,767 units), following double digit growth (11.7%) for the first half of the year, continuing the slow upward trend in 2023. This latest rise may reflect an acceleration in production activity in preparation for routine factory maintenance closures in August. There is also the added excitement surrounding the government’s investment zones, with South Yorkshire named as the first location in the scheme. This is of value to the overall industry, especially as the region is home to McLaren, Boeing, Rolls Royce and many other advanced manufacturers. 

‘However, despite this confirmed investment, it feels like a disjointed approach for driving economic growth, as automotive manufacturers are still waiting for an industrial strategy to support them with navigating new export governance from 1 January 2024 and the transition to electric vehicles. Clarity for businesses is crucial before next year, as the new rules add yet more red tape and could undo the recovery made so far post-Brexit; widening the gap between the UK and its EU and US counterparts.’ 

He added: ‘In comparison to our global automotive competitors, investment zone funding seems insignificant. A long-term industrial strategy needs to be a priority – providing an overarching fit and ensuring investment zone funding is used in areas to recruit, retain and develop the right people. There also needs to be focus on training and upskilling manufacturers in greener and cleaner technologies as part of the transition to electric vehicles. This will require earlier intervention in partnership with further education and vocational training providers otherwise the UK’s ambitions for net zero will remain a pipe dream.’