Leaders of the U.K. auto industry give the government an earful over lack of clear policy on everything from emissions to vehicle-tax policy.
Jaguar Land Rover Managing Director Jeremy Hicks told delegates to the annual CDX auto-dealer conference that the government’s failure to make its position clear on emissions and taxation is causing consumers to hold off their next car purchase and is directly responsible for falling car sales.
Hicks demanded politicians take immediate action to arrest the decline.
“Make it clear – really, really clear,” Hicks told delegates. “This confusion doesn’t do any of us who are involved in the industry any good. There’s so much confusion now, frankly created by government in terms of, is it OK even to buy an internal-combustion engine car anymore?”
JLR consumer surveys show about half do not know what the European Union standards are, and a third do not understand the differences between a gasoline and diesel engine’s carbon-dioxide impact.
“And then you have the taxation policy, where the government has an unclear policy that basically says, ‘Don’t go out and buy one,’” Hicks says.
He was part of a panel on the future of the automotive industry that included Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
“For me, one of the main obstacles to a booming market has been that lack of clarity around diesel and the future of diesel,” Hawes said. “Yes, diesel has a role in the near-, medium-, potentially long-term future of mobility.
“The issues around air quality do need to be addressed, but it is not the sole responsibility of the road transport and automotive industry to solve the problems which originate in a much wider variety of industries.”
Panel chairman and CDX founder James Baggott says Hicks is right when he asks the government for clarity on its car-taxation policies and its stance on diesel and ICE cars.
“Customers do not know which way to turn when it comes to buying a new or used car because of this confusion, and the effects are being felt right across the industry,” Baggott says.