King’s Speech and the Automotive Industry

The first King’s speech in over 70 years has given us an insight as to the direction the government will take towards the automotive industry as we build up to the Autumn Statement. With this being the last Parliamentary session before the next general election, it gives us a good indication of the governmental agenda over the next few months.

The key takeaways from the speech for the wider automotive industry were:

  • Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – initially introduced to the UK Parliament earlier this year, this Bill will be carried into the next Parliamentary session – contains provisions about competition law and for the protection of consumer rights, particularly in an online context.
  • Automated Vehicles Bill – will set the legal framework for self-driving cars.
  • Introduction of ‘Advanced British Standard’ (ABS) qualification for schools – the aim of the ABS is to bring technical and academic routes into a single qualification. In the speech the King noted the aim was to ‘increase the number undertaking high quality apprenticeships.’

EU Parliament backs weaker Euro 7 Emission rules

On 9 November 2023, the European Parliament adopted a position in favour of a ‘weakened’ version of the original Euro 7 proposals. As per the European Commission, the key points are as follows:

  • Brings emission limits for all motor vehicles under a single set of rules and place the same limits regardless of whether the vehicle uses petrol or diesel.
  • Regulate emissions from brakes and tyres – these rules will apply to all vehicles including electric ones and include rules on microplastic emissions from tyres.
  • Retains the limits from Euro 6 for passenger cars – some parties advocated for stricter limits and regulations for passenger cars.
  • Cars will be equipped with a new device that will store fuel and electricity consumption data to determine their true energy efficiency.

Whilst this has been praised by some, others have argued it does not go far enough and some of the original proposals have been struck out. In particular, an ‘emissions budget’ for cars on shorter trips of up to 30 minutes or around six miles.

The proposals to limit Nitrogen Oxide levels for trucks were weakened and a decision was also made to delay the introduction of Euro 7, from its initial launch of 2025. The impact that this may have on UK drivers will be monitored.

British Steel Blast Furnaces Closure Plan

British Steel announced on 6 November that it will close down its blast furnaces in Scunthorpe putting 2,000 jobs at risk.

This announcement will leave the UK without the ability to make 'virgin steel' and instead will be replaced by two electric arc furnaces.

The issue for the automotive industry is that the end product produced in electric arc furnaces 'is not suitable for all industrial uses in, for example, motor manufacturing and construction' as per BBC News.