UK automotive sector reacts to the Queen’s Speech

It did not take long for various sectors of the automotive industry and aftermarket to voice their reactions to the Queen’s speech at the opening of Parliament on Wednesday.

One such reaction came from Brian Madderson, chairman of The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA). He said: “The PRA has raised concerns directed at the government’s announcement that large retailers and motorway service areas (MSA) will be required to install electric charge points”.

Madderson continued, “Clarity over the definition of ‘large retailers’ is urgently needed. “The measure forms part of a government push to increase the number of electric vehicles on UK roads. However the PRA is concerned this could place an unreasonable financial burden on independent fuel retailers who feel there is insufficient market demand to justify the investment at this time.

“The PRA recommends that the government introduces a centralised, monetary fund allowing for private businesses to apply for grants which will underwrite such speculative investment in rapid charge equipment.”

KPMG welcomes Bill

A different slant on the subject of electric vehicles came from Graham Armitage, partner and co-lead of mobility ecosystem at KPMG UK. His comments on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech were as follows:

“The announcement of an Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill is a welcome one. The mobility ecosystem – how people and goods get from A to B – will be fundamentally disrupted by the development of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and Mobility as a Service.

“The bill seeks to address key factors which could delay the wider roll out of these new technologies. Whilst requiring the installation of charge points at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers only helps with certain types of journeys, charging at home and at workplaces is equally as important. The intention for a set of common technical and operational standards represents a substantial move forward in terms of convenient access to a national charging network. Additionally, the planned extension of compulsory motor vehicle insurance, to cover the use of automated vehicles, also addresses a key part of the necessary regulation to enable the use of these vehicles on UK roads.

“In the UK, we have structural advantages that should allow us to be early adopters of new mobility technologies. The economic and social benefit of connected and autonomous vehicles in the UK alone could be worth over £50 billion per year by 2030, and the opportunity to make the UK a key global hub for a new mobility ecosystem is enormous. But, success will only come through an unprecedented degree of collaboration across government and business, so this opportunity needs to be grasped quickly, and the new bill is certainly a step in the right direction.”

And so does LeasePlan

LeasePlan UK, the world’s largest vehicle management group, has welcomed the news on electric vehicle infrastructure and is pleased to note that the new Government will introduce new legislation to ensure the UK remains a world leader in new industries, including electric cars.

LeasePlan UK’s managing director, Matt Dyer said: “It’s promising to hear that the Government is set to invest in the UK electric car infrastructure, the foundation is crucial as electric vehicles take an even bigger position in the UK.

“The vehicle rental and leasing industry contributes £30 billion a year to the UK economy and in 2016 the leasing industry accounted for over of half the number of new cars registered on the road. The SMMT has already reported that the percentage of electric vehicles has seen a steep increase with over 4 per cent of new registrations in 2017 being Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) compared to 3 per cent in the whole of 2016. So, this news will be especially pleasing for UK businesses, who are beginning to invest in electric vehicles for their fleet choice.”

NBRA ‘encouraged’ over action on bogus whiplash claims

Away from the subject of electric vehicles, Jason Moseley, director of the National Body Repair Association (NBRA) commented: “The NBRA is encouraged to see the government’s continued commitment to introducing measures to reduce motor insurance premiums.”

It was confirmed that a Civil Liability Bill would be introduced to crack down on fraudulent whiplash claims, and ensure there is a fair, transparent and proportionate system of compensation in place for damages paid to genuine personal injury claimants.

Moseley continued, “This is positive news for the body repair industry as tackling the continued high number and cost of whiplash claims will help put money back in the pockets of motorists through reduced insurance costs. This will in turn see motorists save on average around £35 per year.

“Our industry is constantly working on keeping costs down for consumers – especially as vehicles are becoming more and more complex and expensive to repair.

“It is vital that everything possible is done to tackle the rampant compensation culture and reduce the number and cost of claims, by banning offers to settle claims without the support of medical evidence, and introducing a new fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries with duration of up to two years.”

And there’s Brexit, of course

Much of the Queen’s speech dealt with Brexit and this was on the mind of Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).

Said Robinson: “With the importance of securing a beneficial Brexit deal for the UK, and ensuring certainty and stability as soon as possible, we are pleased to see that Brexit was the top priority in today’s Queen’s Speech.”

In her Speech, the Queen has set out the Government’s plans for the next two years, a crucial period when Brexit negotiations will be taking place. Of 24 Bills unveiled in the Speech, eight relate to Brexit.

Robinson continued, “Out of the eight Brexit bills, NFDA will pay close attention to the Repeal, Trade, Customs, and Immigration Bills, which will be of primary interest for the retail motor industry during the negotiations. Depending on the outcome of the negotiations, these four Bills could have a significant impact not only the cost of doing business, but also on the cost for consumers when purchasing a vehicle.

“It is also encouraging to see that the Government has introduced a dedicated bill on automated and electric vehicles to help attract investments in infrastructures and support economic growth. However, it is vital that the Government itself also actively invests in the electric vehicle market, particularly on charging infrastructure, as this has the potential to become one of the key forces in the modernisation of the automotive industry.

“We will continue to engage with Government and members of Parliament, to ensure that the voice and concerns of automotive retailers are considered during the Brexit negotiations.”

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