UK national policy and the development of the Low Carbon Vehicle Sector

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2011)


UK national policy and the development of the Low Carbon Vehicle Sector.

The motor industry in the UK has undergone an extended period of change since the 1960s with the introduction of foreign owned firms and the demise of domestic national assemblers. Though the sector remains an important component in the UK economy, it has become increasingly fragmented. As a result the UK automotive sector has become more vulnerable to external market forces and changes in the global economic environment, as demonstrated by the recent credit crisis in 2008.
In part this decline is a consequence of reactive government policy at national and regional level, policy decisions that have had a controversial role in the transformation of the sector since the 1960s. In particular in the area of R&D the sector has lagged behind international competitors, potentially decreasing any productive advantages the sector has accrued. However, the possibilities associated with the emerging Low Carbon Vehicle (LSV) sector offer the UK automotive sector an opportunity to redress this imbalance by becoming pioneering proponents of this fast emerging technology. The prospects for growth and development that the exploitation of LCV technology offers is viewed, particularly by UK local and national government agencies, as a means to revitalise the sector and establish new national vehicle brands with LCV technology at their heart.
Consequently significant investment in the LCV sector has resulted from government initiatives to promote and expand the LCV sector. However, these policies have not been coordinated by a single central agencies and are instead the result of disparate and sometimes competing schemes from differing government agencies, nationally and regionally. More importantly these separate actors have distinct and not always complimentary priorities that threaten to pull the emerging sector in different and varied directions. Though the intentions are always good the aims and objectives are not always shared. Once again it would appear that government policy is in danger of derailing the UK automotive sector through poorly though out decision making.
This paper then aims to assess current UK government policy initiatives, nationally and regionally, in the UK LCV sector. It attempts to identify who are the main instigators of policy-making related to LCV technology, what the key priorities are for these policy-makers and ultimately what their main aim for developing the sector is; is it addressing environmental concerns to meet EU regulation targets related to CO2 emissions, job creation and employment in a period of austerity, energy independence in an era of declining fossil fuels or a desire to address health concerns related to respiratory illness and vehicle emissions? Finally, the paper will address the key issue relating to government policy and the LCV sector; is a lack of strategic thinking by government actors serving to limit growth?



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