Ipswich MP, Sandy Martin, met with the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders at their roundtable discussion this morning at the Labour Party Conference.
The industry has the capacity to invest in the transition to ultra-low and zero emission technology and vehicles, in particular electric vehicles, but need the charging points and other public infrastructure to be put in place by the government. There will also be the need for financial incentives to enable customers to be able to afford electric vehicles.
Around 10% of the UK’s GDP is created by motor manufacture, and a high proportion of the vehicles built in Britain are exported to Europe. SMMT delegates told Labour MPs that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for their industry and cost thousands of jobs. Already, Honda has decided to move production of its new range of electric vehicles to Japan rather than Swindon, and there is a real danger that other companies will follow that example. Manufacturers want a firm commitment to a close trading relationship with Europe and a commitment to encourage the next generation of non-fossil-fuel cars, before they can take the decision to invest in building those cars here in Britain.
Sandy Martin said: “We don’t have motor manufacturers in Ipswich, but a 10% drop in the UK’s GDP would have a catastrophic effect on our ability to afford all the other things we need. I want to see our country proceed as quickly as possible to electric and other zero-emissions vehicles, and I told the manufacturers that I believe the current government’s 2040 target is far too far into the future. I am very encouraged by Labour’s pledge at this Conference to make loans available to enable people to afford electric vehicles. For the sake of our children, we need to move away from petrol and diesel.”