According to independent research commissioned by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the majority of volume carmakers in the country are showing a strong interest in sourcing more locally-built components, with one of the principal reasons being the reduction of costs and logistics strain arising from parts imported over long distances.
The study, which was carried out by research group AutoAnalysis in the final quarter of 2009, consulted 16 senior figures at carmakers with plants in the UK that included BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and Toyota. They also interviewed senior executives at tier 1 suppliers: Calsonic, Continental, GKN, Magna Intier and ZF.
The study found that, while vehicle manufacturers have rationalised their supply base in recent years, they are willing to consider new suppliers for emerging low-carbon technology as well as those associated with more established technologies. But it also found that the supply chain feeding this mix of old and new technologies needs to be developed in an integrated way in the UK.
As Automotive Logistics News reported last week from the EASN conference in Birmingham, this sort of integration is felt to be at risk by representatives across the industry. While UK government support does appear to be reaching the automotive supply chain in the country, including logistics, this was seen to depend largely on whether the projects worthy of support were targeting low-carbon vehicles and transport. Concerns were raised at the conference that the government might be too focused on supporting technologies and supply chains around electric vehicles while neglecting traditional supply chains supporting established technologies.
The SMMT report highlights supply gaps in conventional technology for basic automotive components including traditional castings and forgings, alloy wheels and sheet steel and aluminium, as well as components related to low-carbon vehicles.
It states that carmakers only spend around €3 billion (pre-recession) in UK sourcing of an €8.4 billion spend at tier 1 level, with the rest spent outside the UK. “UK sourcing accounts for circa one third to one fifth of total spend for UK vehicle and engine assembly,” according to the report.
This appears to tie in with the received opinion at Birmingham that suppliers with operations in the UK receiving material from abroad has had an impact on carmakers assembling cars in Britain making them less responsive and flexible in production and labouring under poorer supply chain efficiency.