UK Vehicle Makers Looking for Home Grown Supply Chain
The majority of volume car manufacturers with UK plants are showing strong interest in sourcing more locally-built components. That’s the view of the latest independent research commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which highlights the tactical advantages of UK component sourcing including: benefiting from a favourable exchange rate; minimising the vulnerabilities and logistical costs associated with an extended supply chain; and the UK’s flexible labour force and positive industrial relations as reasons for looking for supply options within the UK.
The report recognised the 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 what are described as “basic automotive components” such as: alloy wheels, alternators and starter motors, brake components, castings and forgings, fasteners, nuts and bolts, plastic mouldings in general, large stampings, sheet steel and aluminium, transmission components and wring harnesses. So called high technology areas included: electronic control units (ECUs) in general, satellite navigation systems, advanced air conditioning and safety systems especially airbags.
Tyres are noticeable by their absence from the above lists, however, according to an SMMT spokesperson, this is not to say tyres aren’t something UK manufacturers are interested in moving forward. This is borne out by the fact that tier one suppliers including tyre/automotive parts maker Continental and Calsonic, GKN, Magna Intier and ZF were interviewed alongside vehicle manufacturers BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and Toyota.
“There is genuine interest and commitment from global vehicle manufacturers in building a stronger UK-based supply chain,” said SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt. “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.