BERR continues to work closely with the automotive manufacturing industry on a range of key issues for the sector and has made clear it stands ready to assist the industry on new issues where appropriate, especially in the current economic climate. Work is also in train under the framework of the Manufacturing Strategy to ensure that British manufacturing has the right long-term framework of support. An example of support for the automotive sector announced in the recent Manufacturing Strategy is a major new pilot programme for low carbon cars, along with £20 million initially for the public procurement of innovative low carbon and zero emission vans. The recent allocation of £6.2 million Selective Finance for Industry in England (SFIE) to Nissan is another example of support available from Government.
The Government facilitated industry-led New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) announced by BERR in April 2008 is looking at how to address the two key strategic challenges of maintaining a competitive edge in the face of low-cost competition and ensuring that the UK benefits from the transition to advanced low-carbon technologies. The results of the NAIGT review, due to report to BERR by the end March 2009, will help industry and Government focus their efforts to help improve the competitiveness of the sector in the coming years.
The European Commission’s proposals to establish EU-wide mandatory targets for new car carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are just one of a range of regulations directly affecting the automotive sector. Government works closely with industry, through initiatives such as the BERR-led Vehicle Industry Policy and European Regulation (VIPER) group, to ensure industry is engaged in the regulatory process at the earliest opportunity and that regulations are proportionate, practicable and appropriate. The CO2 from cars dossier is widely considered to be the most significant ever for the EU automotive industry. Negotiations continue in Europe and the UK Government are working closely with the European Commission, other member states and industry to secure a Regulation which combines ambitious, but realistic, targets with sufficient flexibility to allow for the diversity of the UK and European automotive sector.