​Britain's  Electric Vehicle Competitiveness – The Race to Zero

Posted on 12 September 2023

The global race towards zero-emission transportation is intensifying, and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is sounding the alarm for urgent action to ensure Britain's competitiveness in electric vehicle (EV) production. As other countries ramp up their support for their automotive sectors, the UK must respond swiftly to secure its position as a leader in the EV market. In its newly published blueprint, "Race to Zero: Powering Up Britain's EV Supply Chain," the SMMT outlines the country's strengths in advanced manufacturing, low carbon energy, and research and development, emphasizing the need for a proactive approach to stay ahead of the competition.

Unleashing Britain's EV Potential

The blueprint highlights the importance of responding to initiatives such as the US $370 billion Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan. To position Britain as a highly competitive location for advanced automotive manufacturing, the strategy proposes a Green Automotive Transformation. This approach aligns with the UK's ambition to cease the sale of non-zero emission vehicles by 2035 and focuses on investment, regulation, and trade as key pillars for securing the future of vehicle production in the country.

Investment, Regulation, and Trade

To attract greater investment in EV enterprises, the blueprint suggests de-risking private capital through more competitive incentives and addressing energy costs. Supporting the growth of British "unicorns" in battery and renewable technologies will further stimulate investment. Streamlining regulations will expedite the establishment of new production facilities and renewable energy generation. Meanwhile, maximizing trade opportunities will secure access to essential raw materials, ensuring the establishment of crucial gigafactories that underpin EV production.

Leveraging the UK's Strengths

The UK automotive sector and supply chain have already made significant progress, with over £11 billion invested by manufacturers in EV production locally. Last year, fully electric or hybrid vehicles accounted for nearly a third of all UK-built cars, with an export value of £10 billion. By 2025, the sector is poised to offer over 20 models of electric cars, vans, buses, and trucks, boosting the economy and generating jobs nationwide.

A Robust EV Supply Chain

The entire UK contributes to the EV supply chain, with a notable 25% increase in related businesses over the past five years. With seventeen major automotive suppliers having a base in the country, the SMMT EV Supply Chain Directory reveals that Britain manufactures nearly every component required for zero-emission vehicles. From batteries, powertrains, and fuel cells to rare earth magnets, graphene, and silicon carbide wafers, the UK's capacity to scale up quickly is undeniable.

Advantages in Sustainability and Research

British-built EVs and their components benefit from greener production, with the UK ranking seventh among the world's top 20 automotive manufacturing nations for low carbon energy usage. The country's energy generation emissions are 17% lower than the EU average and surpass those of Germany, the US, Japan, and China. Moreover, the UK excels in university-industry research and development collaboration, a crucial factor in developing new technologies for zero-emission vehicles. With a skilled and adaptable workforce, engineering excellence, and a market eager to embrace new technologies, the UK offers a compelling investment destination for electric vehicle and component production.

The urgency to turbocharge Britain's EV competitiveness has never been greater. As international competition escalates, the UK must respond swiftly to secure its position as an EV production leader. By implementing the recommendations set forth in the "Race to Zero" blueprint, the government and industry can leverage the country's strengths in advanced manufacturing, low carbon energy, and research collaboration.

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