Skills, research and development and productivity are among key priorities. Putnam says the industry “faces some significant challenges”, including balancing the needs of customers with regulatory pressures while operating in a challenging manufacturing environment.
Putnam replaces Tod Evans, former chairman of Peugeot Citroen Automobiles UK. Both men are among a group of senior executives working with SMMT chief executive Chris Macgowan and his team to ensure the industry remains globally competitive.
Putnam is also a board member of Automotive Skills, which is striving to attract more graduates to the retail sector, while providing training for management through the ARMS programme.
He wants to increase the impact of a number of SMMT initiatives such as the Automotive Academy (created to keep UK training courses globally relevant), the Industry Forum (raising productivity) and Foresight Vehicle (managing R&D).
Stephen Odell, head of marketing and sales at Mazda in Japan, becomes Ford of Britain chairman on July 1.