Good times ahead for the automotive sector in Wales if we stay in the EU says industry body boss Tim Williams

The automotive sector offers a fantastic opportunity for inward investment into Wales, the chief executive of the Wales Automotive Forum

Addressing a meeting of Cardiff Breakfast Club Tim Williams said these opportunities applied to SMEs within and outside Wales, affording them a chance to expand and take advantage of what lay ahead.

“After 16 years with WAF it’s pleasing to be able to say that the next three to five years and possibly longer look positive,” he said.

He added: “Technically we have enough components made in Wales to almost make a complete vehicle.

“Wales has 40 companies supported by well over 100 SMEs, and together we have a substantial sector which covers everything from engines, seats and air conditioning units to exhaust systems, brakes, panels and electronics.”

“We also employ more than 18,000 people in a sector turning over more than £3.3bn with a payroll value of £0.5bn, which makes it an important economic driver.”

Mr Williams told his audience that in 1955 Britain had five automobile manufacturing companies.

Today, he said, there are nine bus and coach manufacturers, seven mainstream car makers, and eight premium and sports car manufacturers.

Seven out of 10 Formula One teams are based in the UK along with 13 research and development centres and six design facilities.

Mr Williams added: “In 2014 we made 1.5 million cars, 75,000 commercial vehicles, 2.4 million engines, exported 1.2 million vehicles mostly to Europe and employed 760,000 people in the UK across the automotive sector, with about 70,000 in the supply chain, 18,000 of which are in Wales.”

Currently, he said, there are 52 million vehicles on our roads.

And he praised the work of the Automotive Council and the opportunities offered to supply chain companies and to companies outside the UK to locate in UK.

He said: “There is a £3.5bn opportunity at Tier 1 level for companies to come to UK and Wales wants a slice of that action, and a further £4bn worth of opportunity within the supply chain itself with the request to source locally.

So it’s a great opportunity for SMEs to be part of the automotive supply chain.

“More than 4,000 jobs will be created in engine plants alone and another 28,000 jobs in the supply chain by the earlier 2020s. All of which give an indication of where this industry going. But it all depends on Britain remaining in the EU.”

Cardiff Breakfast Club is sponsored by Blake Morgan , Lloyds Banking Group, Cardiff Business Council, Western Mail and Stills Branding.

Credit: Sion Barry Wales Online

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