Set up new premises for automotive

Expertise clusters are spread throughout the UK, with strong links to research centres, production facilities and infrastructure.


Automotive clusters

Motorsports

The area known as Motorsports Valley is situated in Oxfordshire and the West Midlands of England. It’s home to the majority of the UK's motorsport companies and engineers, and 7 of the 10 Formula 1 teams are based there.

The area is a leading supplier to racing series around the world. There’s a strong emphasis on research and development activity that is transferable to other branches of the automotive industry.

Lightweight materials

Clusters include:

  • Lancashire in North West England
  • Yorkshire and North East England

These areas are leading the development of expertise in multi-material, lightweighting capability developed for motorsports and aerospace. This expertise is now being transferred to medium-high volume automotive manufacturing.

Manufacturing

  • North East England – UK’s biggest car manufacturing hub, including the factories of Nissan, Komatsu and Caterpillar
  • England’s West and East Midlands – supporting car manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover

Commercial engineering and testing facilities

Clusters include:

  • the Midlands – home to test facilities such as HORIBA MIRA, with an extensive team of test engineers, and CAVWAY, a connected and autonomous vehicle testing facility
  • the South of England, with testing facilities such as UTAC Millbrook in Bedfordshire and the Smart Mobility Living Lab in London

Incubators

Incubators are business growth programmes that provide physical space for startups, with shared facilities and business support services. They’re often based in science parks. There are around 400 incubator programmes currently operating in the UK.  Most incubators will charge your company fees or rent, but this is often subsidised by a university of public funding.

Accelerators

Accelerators will typically offer your company services through an intensive programme of 3 to 12 months. There are currently around 300 programmes operating in the UK.

Accelerators tend to be more growth-driven than incubators, as they often offer direct funding in return for equity (typically less than 10%). They’re more appropriate if you’re a startup looking to scale rapidly.

Find out more on the websites of automotive accelerators, including:


Advanced Propulsion Centre
Provides support for transport companies with innovative low carbon technologies that want to establish in the UK.

Future Manufacturing Hub in Manufacture using Advanced Powder Processes
Delivers powder-based manufacturing processes to provide low-energy, low-cost, and low-waste high-value products.

Future Composites Manufacturing Hub
Concentrates on innovation in advanced polymer composite materials, driving the development of automated manufacturing technologies.

Future Liquid Metal Engineering Hub
Addresses challenges faced by the UK metal casting industry, such as rising energy and material costs.

Connected Places Catapult
Enables digital innovation across transport and smart cities, joining the automotive sector with AI, big data and cybersecurity innovators.

View a directory of accelerators and incubators in the UK on the website of the Centre for Entrepreneurs (requires free registration)

Freeports

Freeports are special areas within the UK’s borders where different economic regulations apply and where you can access planning, infrastructure and innovation support from the UK government.

Freeports can provide an invaluable opportunity for automotive businesses, with a broad range of specialisms.  You can also access a wide range of customs and tax benefits by expanding your business within a UK Freeport.

Sites that may be particularly relevant to zero emission vehicle producers are East Midlands Freeport and Thames Freeport, but others may have a location or other offerings that are suited to your business.

See the full list of Freeports

Find office space

The UK has a competitive market of specialised serviced office companies, professional services companies and virtual office providers, all ensuring costs are kept low for clients.

Virtual offices allow companies to meet any legal obligation to have a registered address in the UK, without paying for a physical office.

You can compare prices for office or other space on commercial property search engines, such as Estates Gazette, and the websites of office advisory services like Instant Offices or Flexi Offices.

Support from local business programmes

The nations and regions of the UK have a network of private-public partnership bodies that look after local economic development. These bodies may be able to support you with finding office space.

England

Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hubs support businesses across England. Find links on the Growth Hub network listing.

UK nations

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland manage their programmes for business support, funding and finance in their areas.

More information on the programmes’ websites:

Regulations and best practice guidance

Specific regulations related to the UK automotive industry include:

  • Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2009: the requirements that vehicles must meet to be approved for sale in the UK
  • Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986: the requirements that vehicles must meet to be safe and roadworthy

You can find guidance on the required standards for vehicle safety, construction and use in the UK on GOV.UK.

The UK’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate requires 80% of new cars and 70% of new vans sold to be zero emission by 2030, rising to 100% by 2035. Find more information on GOV.UK.

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