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Stellantis UK boss Alison Jones to become SMMT’s first female president

Incoming SMMT president Alison Jones with current incumbent Dr George Gillespie OBE

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has named Stellantis senior vice-president and UK country manager Alison Jones as its 82nd president.

Jones, who is Stellantis’ country manager for the Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Jeep and Alfa Romeo, will officially take over from Dr George Gillespie OBE, the chairman of HORIBA MIRA, on January 1, 2022 – becoming SMMT’s first female president.

The announcement was made this evening at SMMT’s 104th annual dinner, which took place in London last night (November 23), where Gillespie called for “a redoubling of efforts to improve charging infrastructure” and enhance UK competitiveness.

Alison Jones, StellantisCommenting in her appointment, 12 months after she was named SMMT vice-president, Jones said: “I am proud to be appointed the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ president in 2022.

“It continues to be pivotal and exciting times for our industry as we drive technological developments and customer experiences, respond to regulatory changes, and adapt to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and post-Brexit world.

“2021 has continued to be challenging and demonstrates why it is key we have a strong trade body such as SMMT to represent and drive progress for us all, advancing our interests with governments and organisations, and to ensure we have a positive impact for our members, industry, country economy and people in our communities.”

Gillespie steps down at the end of 2021 after completing his extraordinary three-year tenure as SMMT president, the normal two-year term having been extended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gillespie said: “It has been a real honour to serve as President of SMMT and I’d like to thank Mike and the team for their fantastic support over the past three years.

“I’d like to welcome Alison as new SMMT President, I know she will do a fantastic job and her expertise and guidance will prove invaluable as we look to address our challenges.”

Jones took up her current role with Stellantis in March 2021, having previously served as group managing director UK and senior vice president groupe PSA from February 2019.

The 2020 recipient of the Barbara Cox Woman of the Year Award had previously held a position as managing director of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.

Welcoming her to the SMMT, chief executive Mike Hawes said: “I’m delighted to welcome Alison to the role of SMMT president as its first female custodian.

“Her many decades of automotive industry experience will be vital as the sector navigates a path to recovery from the pandemic while at the same time dealing with the rapid shift to electrification and global supply chain challenges.

“The fact that she is the first female President after 120 years is significant but indicative of just how much more we need to do to improve the diversity of our sector.

“I’d also like to thank George Gillespie for his extended tenure during the pandemic. Seldom has there been such a difficult time to be SMMT President and his expertise and support have been invaluable both to me and the entire SMMT team.”

A plug-in electric vehicle (EV) on chargeCalling for a redoubling of efforts to improve charging infrastructure and enhance UK competitiveness at last night’s dinner.

Gillespie highlighted the work that was still required to ensure UK automotive transitioned to EVs in an orderly and successful manner.

He said: “We have invested billions in designing some of the most amazing electrified vehicles – over 115 zero emission capable vehicle models are for sale in the UK right now.

“We have inspired the public to buy these exciting vehicles in numbers never seen before, but here is the twist.

“It is so frustrating to find broken chargers, blocked chargers, multiple apps, confusing payment schemes. This is quickly going to turn a lot of people off electric vehicles and all our work in developing these fantastic vehicles will be wasted.”

Spelling out some of the sectors’ requirements – including training to address a skills shortage previously highlighted by the Institute for the Motor Industry (IMI) – he added: “We need access to skilled staff. We need free access to markets. We need the right government incentives to develop new technologies and continue to lead the world and help to deal with rising transport and energy costs.”

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