Graham Smith, president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and senior vice-president Toyota Motor Europe, has addressed government ministers and senior executives at the organisation’s annual dinner.
Smith, who will be replaced as president of the SMMT by Joe Greenwell, Ford of Europe's vice president, Governmental affairs, on January 1, 2009, told attendees at the dinner last night that the future of the motor industry would be shaped by the European Commission (EC).
Smith said: “There is no doubt that the future of the motor industry will be shaped by the EC’s new car CO2 regulation to be decided next month.
"It is potentially the most important piece of legislation the industry has faced making it essential that the right framework is created in which to achieve Europe’s environmental and economic ambitions.
“The sector has already made significant progress in improving its environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of a car but this legislation will place an even greater premium on innovation, technology, skills and training.
"Manufacturers will continue to cut emissions but realistic lead-times are critical to ensure successful implementation of vehicle and engine technology targets.”
Smith said that at a time when budgets are stretched to capacity, the automotive industry should continue to invest in the development of new products and technology.
Smith said: “The UK motor industry is one of the best in the world, comprising the finest workforce and greatest products. From design studio to production and retail, the motor industry offers careers and opportunities across the board. It is a UK success story which must be recognised and nurtured to maintain the country’s position on the global stage.”