UK-based motor manufacturers want more local suppliers

1 min read

Britain's automotive sector supply chain received a shot in the arm today (9 February) with the news that UK-based volume car manufacturers want to source more locally built components.

According to independent research commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the majority of volume car manufacturers with UK plants are showing a strong interest in sourcing more from home based suppliers. Their reasons included the benefit of favourable exchange rates, minimising the vulnerabilities and logistical costs associated with an extended supply chain, the UK's labour flexibility and positive industrial relations, and sourcing new technology for ultra-low carbon vehicles. The report recognised significant opportunities arising from the transition to a low carbon economy, but also identified some conventional technologies that manufacturers would like to source more of in the UK. This list included basic automotive components like alloy wheels, alternators and starter motors, brake components, castings and forgings, fasteners, nuts and bolts, plastic mouldings, large stampings, sheet steel and aluminium, transmission components, and wiring harnesses. In the higher technology areas they are seeking electronic control units (ECUs), satellite navigation systems, advanced air conditioning, and safety systems – especially airbags While suggesting component manufacturers prepare now for the requirements of future model production, alongside batteries, the report highlighted related components that would need to be sourced close to the vehicle or battery assembly plant – specific wiring harnesses, electric drivetrain, gearing system, and electrical power control unit. SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt (pictured) said: "There is genuine interest and commitment from global vehicle manufacturers in building a stronger UK-based supply chain. "The challenge is to convert this interest into firm orders. This will require a more collaborative approach between industry and government, particularly to encourage multinational tier 1 suppliers to increase investment in UK R&D and supply chain management capability. The transition to a low carbon future presents significant opportunities for growth in the automotive sector but immediate action is needed if the UK is to stake its claim and benefit in a global industry." The study, undertaken by research group AutoAnalysis in the final quarter of 2009, involved interviews with UK chief executives and senior purchasing managers with UK vehicle and component production sites, seeking to investigate the future prospects of the UK supply chain.