By Debbie Holden 23 Sep 2013 7 min read

Mike Hawes praises UK automotive industry resilience

New SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) chief executive, Mike Hawes, has hailed the resilience and robustness of the UK automotive industry. In his first speech Hawes has pointed out how success in the UK contrasts sharply with the problems of car industries in mainland Europe.

Recent evidence of British motor industry strength came earlier this month, with SMMT data showing output rising 16.2% in August to 91,282 units, up 12,705 units compared to the same month a year before. That third successive monthly gain pushed year to date volume up 3.1% to 984,545 units.

Hawes, formerly with Volkswagen Group, Bentley and Toyota Europe, noted it was a “particularly exciting” time to be involved in the UK auto sector as Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and others put their faith in the country.

“This is opening a tremendous amount of opportunity for the entire industry,” he said at this week’s SMMT Open Forum in the UK Midlands city of Worcester. “The government wants to make the most of this opportunity – the UK is the only market in western Europe that is up.

“In 2008, we saw great support for manufacturing and the importance of exports for the UK economy. The initiative was continued in the coalition government and we saw the creation of an industrial strategy which put growth at the heart of the UK.”

However, it’s not all good news. Due to weak EU demand and domestic restructuring saw UK commercial vehicle manufacturing continue to decline in August with output down 51.1% year on year to 3,694 units.


Year to date volume fell 16.6% in the first eight months of 2013 to 60,646 units and the SMMT noted output was expected to remain “subdued throughout 2013”.