Aston Martin chairman David Richards has stressed the importance of good intelligence to the future of the West Midlands automotive industry.
Mr Richards, also chairman of Warwickshire-based Prodrive, told members of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce that Britain should not be hung up about certain manufacturing jobs going abroad as long as research, development, design and engineering posts remained in the UK.
He said that more cars were made in the UK today than were 20 years ago and that the automotive industry had a very bright future in the area.
“The markets are changing and while there might be difficulties in the US and UK economies, opportunities are opening up in areas such as China and India,” he said. “We have to explore those opportunities and be ready to move quickly. Our [Aston Martin] Gaydon plant is operating at manufacturing capacity and so we have made a short-term decision to do some manufacturing in Austria,” he added.
Mr Richards said the luxury car maker remained committed to the area and would continue to do so as long as its needs were served.
“My view is that as long as we hold on to intellectual property and maintain our commitment to the intelligent side of the industry, that is the future for the UK,” he said.
The area remained inventive, he said, with new clean technology being developed all the time. He also said that Aston Martin would continue to work with local universities and run an apprenticeship scheme each year looking for around 11 people.
“This year we had 1,500 applicants for those positions which shows that we have got some great talent in the area,” he said.
Mr Richards also welcomed the recent sale of former Aston Martin stablemates Jaguar Land Rover to Indian conglomerate Tata.
“It’s very positive for this area and for the automotive industry in general,” he said. “Ratan Tata is an extraordinary, unassuming character and is not the sort of person you’d expect to be heading a conglomerate such as this.
“I am told Tata are a hands-off kind of company and that’s pleasing. Some reorganisation of the business will need to take place but overall it is a superb move for this region.”
Mr Richards also spoke to chamber members about future plans in motorsport and said the UK should be proud of the fact that it was a world leader in the industry.
Chamber president Darren Jones said: “It is great to see such a commitment to this area from such a massive company. David is a fascinating, engaging guy and it was great to see so many businesses here to listen to him.”
Mr Richards was guest speaker at an event organised by chamber and held at the Warwickshire Golf Country Golf and Country Club.