UK automotive: Mexico waving

Santander is supporting the UK automotive sector by mounting a new trade initiative to help UK manufacturers to access the Mexican automotive sector. Peter Osborne reports.

Eleven of the world’s top carmakers have facilities in Mexico, among them GM, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and VW, driving the country high up the global automotive league table. For Santander’s manufacturing team this is too good an opportunity for UK automotive component manufacturers to miss.

“Mexico is an important up-and-coming automotive producer,” Santander UK’s business development director for manufacturing, Paul Brooks told me. “It’s also an area where Santander has very strong local presence and we’re planning to take a trade mission to Mexico to introduce UK Tier 1 automotive component manufacturers to Mexico-based buyers.”

“We would like to help West Midlands automotive supply chain manufacturers break into this important market,” said Deborah Partridge, the bank’s Birmingham-based corporate & commercial relationship director. “We are working with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders [SMMT], the Department for International Trade [DIT] and our own colleagues at Santander Mexico to find new opportunities for our customers.”

“We are really bullish about the automotive sector,” Paul Brooks said. “Very simply, in the UK we make cars that the world wants to buy. We’ve got some great OEMs in the UK, OEMs that are world-class names and their export markets are the envy of the world – and they seem to only go from strength to strength.” It is the opportunities presented by export markets that clearly excite the bank, even with the great, unanswered questions about Brexit looming.

In the changing economic environment that has started to unfold in the wake of last year’s referendum vote, Brooks believes there is a huge opportunity for the UK’s components sector to increase the amount of UK content that goes into UK cars.

“The UK Automotive Council did a very valuable piece of work in 2015, which highlighted that there was potentially £4bn worth of components that could be made in the UK, but which are currently imported,” he said. “We stand ready to help.”