[THE INVESTOR] The United Kingdom is eyeing partnerships with Hyundai, Kia and local auto parts makers for innovative future car technologies, such as for green cars and autonomous vehicles.
The initiative was announced as part of an unprecedented marketing campaign “Automotive is Great,” launched by the British Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 18.
Charles Hay, British Ambassador to South Korea, speaks at the “Automotive is Great” campaign launch event in Seoul on Oct. 18.
“We would like to talk to all the major Korean component suppliers because we offer great opportunities, especially at a time when a few other markets are not too good for Korean firms,” said Jay Nagley, automotive R&D specialist at the Department for International Trade of UK, at a press conference in Seoul. “We would also love to talk to Hyundai and Kia about research and development opportunities in the UK, especially in low carbon vehicles and autonomous technologies.”
Nagley added the British government is in talks with local tier-one firms for possible investment agreements.
“Automotive is Great” campaign is designed to promote the UK auto industry, which is expanding R&D efforts to seek business ties with Korean firms, according to the embassy. The promotion, which includes various forums and networking events, will run for 18 months through 2019 Seoul Motor Show planned for late March or April.
“The automotive sector alone accounts for 14 percent of UK’s manufacturing output,” Charles Hay, British Ambassador to South Korea, said at the event. “And while we may not build as many cars as Korea or Germany, the UK remains the world’s largest manufacturer of luxury cars,” he said, adding brands such as Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover, that are being sold globally, still make cars in the UK utilizing its labor and expertise.
According to data provided by the embassy, over 12 global brands, including Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and BMW, have their production facilities in the UK. The production level, which came to 1.8 million cars last year, is expected to reach 2 million in 2020.
“Because much of the design and innovation that goes into these vehicles comes from the cutting edge R&D that originates in the UK, it means that in addition to manufacturing, the country is at the forefront in developing technologies for autonomous vehicles,” Hayes said.
Nagley emphasized there is a great opportunity especially for parts makers, as British manufacturers cannot single-handedly meet the growing supply demand. If a Korean firm decides to set up operations in the UK, it is eligible for the government’s R&D funding that is estimated at US$2 billion, in addition to tax benefits, among others.
Addressing concerns about the Brexit impact, embassy officials said its automotive sector would remain solid, citing cases such as Nissan and Toyota, which have made major investments in the UK after it decided to leave the EU in June 2016.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)