Motor Industry Update 29 October 2021

Ford Halewood Plant Halewood Plant - Photo credit: Ford

Ford invests £230 million to transform Halewood operations

Ford announced last week that it plans to invest up to £230 million at its Halewood vehicle transmission facility to transform it to build electric power units for Ford all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles sold in Europe as part of its commitment to go all-in on electrification in Europe.

Production of power units is expected to begin in mid-2024 with a production of around 250,000 units a year. The investment which is subject to and includes U.K Government support through its Automotive Transformation Fund, will help safeguard jobs at Halewood for current Ford employees.

Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe said:

“This is an important step, marking Ford’s first in-house investment in all-electric vehicle component manufacturing in Europe. It strengthens further our ability to deliver 100 percent of Ford passenger vehicles in Europe being all-electric and two-thirds of our commercial vehicle sales being all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

“We also want to thank the U.K. Government for its support for this important investment at Halewood which reconfirms Ford’s continuing commitment to the U.K. and our position as a leading investor in this country’s auto industry and technological base.”

The UK Government’s business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, added:

“Ford’s decision to build its first electric vehicle components in Europe at its Halewood site is further proof that the UK remains one of the best locations in the world for high-quality automotive manufacturing. In this highly competitive, global race to secure electric vehicle manufacturing, our priority is to ensure the UK reaps the benefits.

“Today’s announcement, backed by government funding, is a huge vote of confidence in Britain’s economic future and our plans to ramp up electric vehicle production. It will future-proof Halewood’s proud industrial heritage and secure high-skilled, well-paid jobs across the North West for years to come.”

SMMT statement on the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive commented: “The automotive industry is putting zero-emission vehicles on Britain’s roads at pace beyond all forecasts, such is the choice and appeal of these new models.

“A well-designed, flexible regulatory framework could help maintain or even increase this pace to ensure we deliver on our shared decarbonisation ambitions.

“Consumers need choice and encouragement, irrespective of where they live or what they drive. The additional targeted funding for electric vehicles is welcome and will help ensure affordability for certain models. To ensure we have the reliable, accessible and nationwide chargepoint network this transition needs, however, requires a similar regulatory approach. The announcement of additional funds for on-street residential charging must energise much-needed private sector investment but consumers will only have confidence in the future if there are commensurate and binding requirements on the infrastructure sector. Combining regulatory commitments with financial ones is the key to a successful transition to zero-emission road transport.”

Vauxhall Motors response to the government ZEV mandate

Paul Willcox, Managing Director, Vauxhall, commented:

“Vauxhall welcomes the UK government’s announcement to implement a zero emission vehicle mandate which will provide clarity to the UK motor industry and the rest of the electric vehicle ecosystem, on the basis of a 360-degree approach. Vauxhall believes a ZEV mandate can work in the UK provided there are complimentary targets on the other key parts of the electric vehicle ecosystem which are key to driving Britain to a more sustainable transport infrastructure. With our Ellesmere Port plant set to become the first electric vehicle only factory within the Stellantis group, we look forward to working with the government on the detail of how a ZEV mandate can be implemented and help support a sustainable vehicle marketplace in the UK.”

As a company, Vauxhall has committed to selling only fully electric new cars and vans from 2028, which is seven years ahead of the government’s deadline of 2035.

BVRLA advises Transport Select Committee on national road pricing scheme

The BVRLA has told MPs that the government should start planning for a national road pricing scheme as soon as possible to ensure that the transition from today’s emissions-based motoring tax regime is as smooth as possible and not leave it to the last minute.

Speaking to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, BVRLA Director of Corporate Affairs, Toby Poston said:

“There is a clear need for a new national road pricing scheme to be developed as more and more zero emission vehicles are seen on UK roads. We are removing fossil fuels from the equation, so the current emissions-based tax system will see revenues plummet.

“Any new road pricing scheme must be easy to pay and have the simple objective of providing a revenue-neutral replacement for fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). It should be based on a simple ‘distance driven’ model that considers vehicle weight, emissions and use case, with discounts given to shared mobility solutions – such as car clubs, rental cars, buses and taxis – to incentivise more sustainable travel choices.

“It is imperative that road pricing is considered and trialled now to ensure a smooth transition into a new system. Drivers and fleet operators need clarity on future taxation as they make the transition to zero emission road transport.”