The automotive industry is just one of the market sector that Kloeckner Metals UK supply fully certified materials to, which meet international and industry standards. As things are getting increasingly exciting in the automotive sector, from the emergence of connected and autonomous vehicles to new development of technologies at Kloeckner we wanted to find out more about the progresses in the automotive industry so we spoke to Luke Hampton, Senior Supply Chain Manager at SMMT. We wanted to gain some industry insight on the future of the automotive industry and the role of the steel and metal industry.

Can you tell us a bit about SMMT and what you do?

SMMT is the UK automotive industry trade body, providing a singular voice for the whole of the sector, including third parties and stakeholders. We have over 750 members and bring them together to find out what their challenges are.

What exciting developments are coming in the industry?

The most exciting developments coming from the automotive industry are new technologies which enable us to develop better, safer and greener products for the future. From a UK perspective, it is particularly exciting as many of these technologies are developed here in the UK. There is a real opportunity for UK companies to benefit from the design, development and manufacture of these technologies with market uptake set to accelerate in the coming years.

In particular, the UK is well set to benefit from the expected increased powertrain shift from internal combustion to electrical. Key opportunities for the UK will lie in the high-value assemblies of both battery and powertrain technologies.

What exactly are connected and autonomous vehicles and what are their benefits?

‘Connected autonomous vehicles’ is a broad term and they already exist to an extent in the market. There is a scale of how autonomous a vehicle is and we are actually on a journey up that scale at the moment.

There is a strong industry drive to maximise the potential benefits of autonomy and connectedness for the end user. These vehicles could allow consumers to understand a route better, increase road safety, provide in-depth knowledge of what is in your area and would also enable those with disabilities to have a greater level of mobility.

What will connected and autonomous vehicles mean for the future of the automotive industry?

Some futurists say vehicle manufacturers will move away from the traditional buy-and-sell model, toward mobility solutions providers. Existing partnerships with car sharing platforms, including Uber and Lyft, indicates this is developing further. The rise in these types of services suggests that younger generations are not particularly fixed on the idea of owning their own vehicle.

However, there is still a great chance that the industry’s current dynamic will continue for some time; as society we like owning things and having our own space, as well as the convenience of going where we want, when we want. In this case, it’s likely that the classic buy-and-sell model will continue to exist, but perhaps at a smaller scale.

There will always be people who want to drive their own cars, however autonomy and connectedness will definitely impact the car industry.

Could connected and autonomous vehicles have an impact on the steel and metals industry?

Well, connected and autonomous vehicles could be used in terms of delivery and distribution in the steel industry. There’s also opportunities for the transfer of technology into manufacturing processes and logistics. They could have much wider applications than just within vehicles themselves.

How do you feel the automotive industry will change over the next 10 years?

In the next 10 years, from a product point of view, we will see a rise in terms of the number and level of proliferation of connected autonomous technologies into the new car market. Through regulatory pressures, particularly in the European market, there will be increased levels of electrification and consequently, product portfolios will continue to diversify.

There will be a growing number of electric vehicles from all vehicle manufacturers, and an increased number of dedicated electric vehicle models.