In Flux; SMMT Explore Automotive Industry Priorities for 2017


Words: Ben Armstrong, Connects2Source Material: Automotive industry priorities for 2017, SMMT Webinar, 31/01/2017

The world is changing. This is a statement that can be felt unanimously by everyone as we move onward into 2017 – it’s difficult to predict where we’ll be in a years’ time. From Trump’s appointment as the President of the USA to the UK’s decision to exit the EU, people are pushing for alternatives to the norm and with new leadership comes new challenges.

In automotive, the SMMT reports that 2016 was a positive year, with worldwide car manufacturing up 8.8%, stability in the commercial vehicle sector, engine manufacturing up 7.5% in the United Kingdom, and a 2.3% rise in newly registered cars.

However, during their January webinar ‘Automotive Industry Priorities for 2017‘, only 60% of participants were confident that the industry would grow this year. Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the SMMT was understanding of the response: ‘That’s not really a surprise. Uncertainty is the enemy of business.’.


Despite doubts, the SMMT are confident that the UK will succeed in its key automotive goals. Hawes explained that the SMMT will ‘continue to promote the industry’ and spoke of the event they coordinated off the back of the Paris Motor Show which was ‘effective in getting the message across to media and politicians’.

‘I’m going to make no apologies’ said Hawes, ‘We took a quite strident tone, and that’s what we’ll continue to have to do because it’s about promoting the industry – defending it – and safeguarding its fundamental competitiveness.’ Overall then, the attitude of the SMMT in the face of potential changes is one of defiance and unwavering support for the core principles of the automotive market. ‘We need to take the consumer with us on this and certainly, we want to make sure the benefits to be gained for the UK economy are significant’.


For 2017, a key priority area for the industry is the introduction of connected or autonomous vehicles and technologies [You can read more about these in our CES Review]. These advances present a unique set of challenges to be considered, and the SMMT have identified issues such as data protection, security, safety, vehicle cyber security, connectivity and its infrastructure, the regulatory landscape and reforming insurance as key concerns.

To discuss these issues further, the SMMT will be providing an unparalleled opportunity for the UK automotive sector to showcase and discuss the latest developments and challenges around connected and autonomous vehicles at their conference on 30 March 2017. The event will take place inside the QEII Conference Centre, London and will feature appearances by keynote speakers Dr Ian Robertson (Member of the Board of Management, BMW AG) and David Richter (VP of Strategic Initiatives, Uber).


To find out more about the SMMT, automotive industry plans for 2017 and up-to-date information on events, visit

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