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Automotive Exports

Volume 727: debated on Thursday 9 February 2023

The Department is working across Whitehall and with industry to secure export-led investment as the sector makes the transition to zero-emission vehicles, including new electric vehicle models, along with battery gigafactories and the electric vehicle supply chain. We have a dedicated export support system throughout the UK in the shape of our international trade advisers, ensuring that the automotive industry is the country’s biggest single exporter of goods, exporting nearly 80% of vehicle production—about 6% of the UK’s total exported goods.

If we are to continue to drive British automotive exports, it is critical that automotive businesses such as Vauxhall in Luton can make the transition to manufacturing electric vehicles effectively. The rules of origin from 2024 onwards highlight the need to attract the wider electrified supply chain to the UK as soon as possible. How is the Minister working with the automotive sector to expand our domestic electric vehicle supply chain—especially in respect of batteries—to avoid any future tariffs when rules of origin come into effect?

The hon. Lady will hopefully find some comfort in the fact that I have many meetings with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and have met the automotive sector multiple times to deal with this issue. We are very much aware of the rules-of-origin issue, which is why we are investing so much in batteries. In particular, the Faraday battery challenge is a £541 million project to help us to develop new battery technologies. I have mentioned already that I was in Cape Town to deal with the diversification of access to critical minerals in supply chains to ensure that we can process them and manufacture here.

Would the Minister like to congratulate Group Lotus in my constituency, which exports more than 70% of its car production? Would she like to take the opportunity to come to Hethel to see the new Lotus Evija supercar, which can do nought to 180 mph in nine seconds?

I am not sure that I can speak as far as that car goes, but I am more than happy to come to Hethel to visit Group Lotus. The amount of progress that has been made by experts, academics and scientists when it comes not only to zero emission vehicles but to speed is remarkable.