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A step-change year for UK automotive

Automotive industry experts at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have named 2011 a step-change year for the industry.

Based on unprecedented levels of international investment in the UK and long-term commitments to building new and existing vehicles and engines across the country, the prospects for automotive manufacturing are strong.

Through 2011 vehicle manufacturers have committed in excess of £4 billion to projects in the UK, from the development of low carbon technologies to the introduction of all-new models.

This high level of investment comes with the added bonus of increased and safeguarded employment for thousands of UK workers, plus millions of pounds of business for UK-based suppliers, says the SMMT.

"It has been a very significant year for the UK motor industry,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.

“We have seen a remarkable series of investment announcements by global vehicle manufacturers with a total of £4 billion of investment promised for the UK, securing new model programmes, production facilities and jobs.

"Despite the uncertainty within the Eurozone, these decisions demonstrate real confidence in the future of UK manufacturing and its role within a rebalanced economy."

This year, UK automotive manufacturing reported positive results with total vehicle and engine production set to end the year over 5% up on 2010. In the short term, economic stability in the Eurozone and global export markets is essential to enable consistent growth.

Looking ahead five to 10 years, UK automotive manufacturing could be on course for near-record highs - new models, long-term commitments, ongoing investment and government recognition of the importance of manufacturing to the UK economy, combine to stand the UK in good stead for the future, suggests the SMMT.

Automotive is Europe's largest investor in R&D, making global competition for R&D budgets fierce. The Chancellor used the Autumn Statement to respond to industry's calls for a reform of the UK R&D tax credit system, announcing a move to an ‘above the line' credit from 2013.

Sending a strong signal to international investors, the move could see an additional £390m of R&D investment in the UK each year and increased economic output of £665 million in the short-term, safeguarding jobs and affirming the country's status as a prime location to base high-skill operations.

The UK is a world leader in automotive engineering skills, attracting big R&D budgets, testing programmes and technology development projects. Maintaining and developing these skills are crucial to the on-going success of UK automotive.

In addition to introducing thousands of new apprentice positions, UK automotive took the lead in government's ‘See Inside Manufacturing' initiative.

The programme saw automotive manufacturers across the country offer a series of activities to inspire the next generation of budding engineers, encouraging the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

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