Why the ‘Made in Britain’ label on cars is becoming more accurate

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Growing the automotive supply chain - .PDF file.

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EEF Manifesto - .PDF file.

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Good news for the British automotive industry this week: domestic component-makers sold 19 per cent more products to UK vehicle producers last year than in 2013. Furthermore, around one third of the components in a UK-built car are domestically sourced, compared to more than 90 per cent in the mid-1970s.

In Luton, the new Vauxhall Vivaro van contains more than twice the number of British-sourced components at 40 per cent than its predecessor’s 16 per cent, which amounts to an additional £600m spent with British suppliers.

These figures were compiled by the Automotive Council, which published Growing the Automotive Supply Chain – The Opportunity Ahead on March 13. 

The Automotive Council was formed in 2009 to revive the UK’s car industry and since then British production has risen by over 50 per cent.

In November 2014, the joint UK government-industry organisation identified a £2bn growth opportunity for British component suppliers due to the continuing success of UK car manufacturing.

Their report assessed the capacity for British suppliers to increase local supply of components that are currently imported to 60 per cent, a figure similar to other European countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

But despite the surge in British-built vehicles containing parts sourced in the UK there are still concerns from component manufacturers about access to finance, lack of incentives to innovate, and a feeling that they are missing out on tax incentives.

According to the Business Growth Service, these concerns are particularly acute for automotive suppliers in the West Midlands, who have the opportunity to address their concerns at BGS’s first Automotive Finance Expert event this Thursday.

Rachel Eade, the national automotive lead for the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) believes the seminar being held at MG Motors’ Longbridge site can help introduce new routes to finance, highlight R&D Tax Credit opportunities and unravel the different funding options available to growing manufacturers.

Delegates attending the free event will also hear from Prof David Bailey on the impact of this week’s government budget and Jaguar Land Rover’s Mike Mychajluk on the risk analysis car-makers use when assessing suppliers.

Eade said that the event had been organized in response to concerns raised in the supply chain regarding preparation for and securing finance.

The event will include speakers from JLR, the Chartered Institute of Purchase and Supply, and Finance Birmingham, who will be talking in detail about the range of tools and funds available.

Other sessions will cover export finance guarantees, getting the most out of capital allowances, and a panel discussion to tackle any other issues, said Eade, who has helped companies gain access to over £25m of funding to assist with their growth plans.

Automotive Financial Expert is open to owners or directors of supply-chain firms in the West Midlands. Click here to learn more.

Access to funding was also a topic for discussion at EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference in February.

The manufacturers’ organisation stated that the cost and supply of external finance must continue to improve with increased diversity in the market, especially for SMEs.

In their manifesto titled Securing a Manufacturing Renaissancethe manufacturers’ organisation adds that finance for working capital, exporting, expansion and starting a new business are all vital for a healthy economy. The impact of credit challenges following the recession are now beginning to wane, but in the long-term we need a diverse pool of finance providers that offer a broad mix of products on competitive terms based on an understanding of the needs of industry.

We don’t know if one party will win the election outright or whether we’ll be landed with a rainbow-coloured coalition but we do know that it’s the spring budget this Wednesday, giving the chancellor one last throw of the dice to woo voters and maintain the economy’s recovery.

Again, EEF has set out its recommendations to the chancellor and you can read more on that over on MWP Advanced Manufacturing, The Engineer’s sister publication.

Finally, a move away from politics sees Technology Academy Finland opening nominations for the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize.

Submissions to the €1m prize can be made by universities, research institutes and other academics as well as companies all around the world.

All fields of technology will be considered, but the winning entry will have demonstrated a track record of practical applications and must accelerate further research.

The nominee – from any part of the world – can be an individual researcher or a research group. Nominations will be accepted until 31 July 2015 and the winner will be announced in April 2016.

The Millennium Technology Prize is awarded every two years for disruptive technological innovations that help solve the great challenges of humankind and support sustainable growth. In 2014 Prof Stuart Parkin was awarded the prize for his work that has helped to fuel the ‘big data’ revolution.

Nomination criteria and documents can be found online at www.millenniumprize.fi/cfn.

Update: no end of companies, organisations and professional bodies want the ear of the Chancellor in the run up to tomorrow’s Budget and the Institution of Civil Engineers is no exception.

They’ve published their recommendations to the government today, March 17, 2015 urging the Coalition to show its commitment to infrastructure by pushing forward plans to devolve transport powers to city regions, closing the investment gap in flood defence maintenance and setting out steps for a preventative local road maintenance regime.

In a statement issued today Nick Baveystock, ICE director general said: “This final Budget before 7 May presents a crucial opportunity for Government to step up and demonstrate its long term commitment to infrastructure.

“There are a number of key areas we believe George Osborne could address this week. Flood defence maintenance funding is still allocated annually and this is insufficient. Flood risk management is a long-term challenge and we would like to see a 6 year investment programme for maintenance – to match the 6 year commitment made to investing in new flood infrastructure.

“We would also like to see clarity on exactly how Government plans to unlock the potential of our city regions and rebalance growth, and see commitment to a planned, preventative local road maintenance regime – addressing defects on a long-term ‘value for money’ basis instead of through costly, reactive ‘quick fix’ work.”

The finer details of ICE’s manifesto can be found here