“We may have fewer people actually building cars, but people don’t realise that output last year equalled the peak of the early ‘70s and we now have many more involved in the successful research and development of technologies, critical to our medium and longer term future.
“The face of motor manufacturing in Britain may be changing, but the country’s involvement in developing new manufacturing techniques and materials, creating advanced telematics and devising new propulsion systems has never been more intense.
“Much of this new research is being undertaken through the Government-backed SMMT Foresight Vehicle initiative with leading companies and academic institutions joining forces in more than 100 automotive research programmes.
“I believe this pioneering work and Britain’s automotive industry as a whole is being widely undervalued.
“It’s often forgotten that directly and indirectly the UK automotive industry employs around 800,000 people, turns over £47 billion – almost 10% of the UK’s manufacturing total – and exports £20 billion worth of products every year. And we have Europe’s most productive car plant – Nissan at Sunderland.
“We’ve always been good at inventing and problem-solving in Britain and current work is helping to develop components and technologies which meet many of the industry’s most pressing requirements in fields such as emissions, alternative energy sources and telematics.
“The British motor industry has certainly changed radically over the past 30 years, but it’s still alive and kicking.”