Governments should not promote specific green technology solutions, but incentivise CO2 targets and let the public decide how to meet them.
That’s the view of Richard Parry-Jones, co-chairman of the Automotive Council, who addressed delegates at the SMMT Summit during a discussion entitled ‘What UK plc can offer the global motor industry’.
Technologies such as pure EVs should not be favoured over other solutions if the UK is to maximise business benefits from reducing the CO2 of its car parc.
“I am against the idea that electric cars should get special benefits,” he said. “Anything below a certain CO2 threshold should get these.”
This means dealers will, in the future, be obliged to carry increasingly varied technology in their showrooms, to facilitate public choice.
Detailed technical understanding of these choices will also be necessary, to ensure buyers make the right individual choice.
Parry-Jones said it was a demand car dealers should already be planning for.
Other speakers said green motoring offered opportunities for the UK, for example, by the country becoming a low CO2 centre of excellence.
But Toyota Motor Manufacturing deputy MD Tony Walker said: “Companies do not build small cars here because the margins are too low.”
He said higher-margin cars offered an opportunity for UK car manufacturing to be competitive, a strategy Toyota had already successfully deployed with Auris Hybrid production at Burnaston, Derbyshire.
In the context of such green leadership, the UK car industry should defend itself against misguided criticism from bodies like the EU Transport Commission, said Parry-Jones.
“Transport is 90% car, 4% train and 5% bus. Why? Because the car is by far the best value.”
The UK car industry must also work to change a perception problem that risks a future skills shortage.
“We need to work with young people, to inspire and educate them,” said James Davies, representing component manufacturer Calsonic Kansei.