Former Ford of Britain chairman, Joe Greenwell CBE, has hailed the work of the UK Automotive Council in aiding the rapid recovery of the British car industry and says he will vigorously promote the attractiveness of Britain for investors. Addressing last night’s (5 December) Welsh Automotive Forum dinner near Cardiff, Greenwell, now CEO of the Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) at the UK Department of Trade and Industry, stressed the importance of the Council for the British industrial landscape.
“Investors want to see a stable economy and political environment,” he said. “The Automotive Council is our vehicle for mapping out that sector. It has cross-party support that is remarkable. It has the support of the shadow [political] team because at long last, people are looking at the importance of long-term strategy. Last year the Council was invited by the British government to develop a sector strategy. We know we have aspirations to be a high value-added economy and deliver the kinds of lives we want for our citizens.”
The former Ford chief insisted on the importance of attracting young people into the auto sector – a consistent theme echoed both by the Automotive Council and the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – and of inculcating them into a work ethic.
“If we act as an industry, we can act in a way to influence the way our industry is perceived in schools,” he said. “We have to do more work on that front. We can’t trade unless we introduce our young people to the requirements of working life. The aim is to compete – that is what it is all about.”
Greenwell echoed comments by the previous speaker at the dinner attended by around 250 delegates, Emeritus Professor, Garel Rhys, who urged British component producers to take advantage of the rapidly recovering UK automotive sector.
“Have we been as successful attracting back supply chain companies into this country?” said Greenwell. “No we have not. Our job in the AIO is to promote UK automotive to existing and potential investors. Can UK automotive continue this investment? I say we can. I say we have the next two to three years. I see UK sales growing, I see flourishing premium brands driving exports and industry-leading technologies. I see a more supportive business environment with government and a whole suite of incentives. There is GBP3bn (US$4.9bn) of business to start to bridge [the] gap between local content and Germany.”
“I do believe we have a very compelling offer and we intend to be very un-British and shout it from the rooftops.”