SMMT president: don't judge this industry on the actions of one

The president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has spoken out about the negative impact the Volkswagen emissions scandal is having on the rest of the industry.

Speaking at the SMMT’s 99th annual dinner in London yesterday evening, Gareth Jones said the impact of the defeat device cheat on the rest of the UK automotive industry is “unjust, unfair and plain wrong.” Allegations that other car manufacturers are involved are “unfounded”.

Jones called upon the many detractors to “not judge this industry on the actions of one – or on an outdated test regime.” This is in reference to widespread criticism by everyone from Government down that the official fuel economy test does not represent real-world driving. The SMMT has known this for years, he said, and being publicly saying as much too.

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“The test regime must change, and is changing. Real world tests and the World Light Test Procedure (WLTP) have long been advocated by the SMMT.”

Jones also insisted the industry ought to be judged on the progress it has made, such as cutting CO2 emissions by a quarter in a decade, which is “exceeding targets”.

George Osborne’s spending review

Addressing industry leaders, politicians and media on the eve of George Osborne’s spending review, Jones urged the chancellor to continue investment that has helped the UK’s new car market grow to the second largest in Europe.

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He said: “While the UK’s productivity is falling behind that of global competitors, in automotive we excel. We have the best record in Europe and our productivity has increased four times faster than the UK average. How? Sheer hard graft, hard won investment and a culture that demands continuous improvement and innovation.”

However, he added that there are also major challenges to overcome, including today’s spending review – with cuts expected across government departments.

Jones added: “We have shown Britain has what it takes to be a manufacturing powerhouse again. But we can’t do it alone. So we say to government: Create the conditions that allow us to develop the quality products for which we are world-renowned. Back us to create the jobs, economic growth and prosperity that Britain needs. We have shown we can deliver; work with us to make sure that success continues.”