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Project Manager based in Manchester UK

#Brexit Exit ?…………………..#automotive

copyright C Robinson 2018

Discovery Experience

This week JLR hit the headlines as they announced plans to transfer production of their Discovery model from Solihull in the West Midlands to Slovakia.

This factory is nothing new – it was first announced to the press in 2016:-

https://www.tatamotor

JLR also has manufacturing facilities in Brazil, China & India. Like all global automotive players its manufacturing sites are scattered across the globe although before the Tata takeover they were all in the UK but that was before the Indian conglomerate invested $billions into the company & transformed it from a niche brand to one, although small on a Global  scale, has more than doubled its workforce in the UK to over 40,000 people as well as expanding the range of products enormously. Without this massive investment Jaguar Land Rover would not exist in its current form.

The move  does however highlight something which ardent Brexiteers seem to be unable to grasp. All these large global businesses have no overriding loyalty to any particular country & are in the business of generating revenue not pandering to some quaint notions of nationality, so they adapt their business to suit the geo-political conditions of the times.

One must ponder then what is the benefit of introducing additional barriers to making business easier. Additional bureaucracy & costs in the form of tariffs & customs charges when parts are arriving from all over the globe just doesn’t make business sense. If Britain leaves the customs union it will cause a massive headache for companies like JLR who import & export millions of components & parts every year. Longer term this will give them greater incentive to set up manufacturing sites inside the European Economic entity.

The harder Brexit gets the easier Exit gets.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.co.uk

All views expressed in this blog are the authors alone. 

CAR WRECK AHEAD………#automotive

There is no doubt about it; the UK car industry is running headlong into a perfect storm, Emissions Scandal, Dirty Diesel & bonkers #Brexit.

Jaguar Land Rover which has seen continuous expansion for the last decade has laid off 1000 contractors at its Solihull plant & has been cutting back on production volumes. Nissan in Sunderland has announced redundancies although these aren’t compulsory (yet!).

Politicians have a huge responsibility for this by confusing the public about ‘dirty diesels’ after having encouraged their adoption to combat global warming. European sales of diesel cars are down a whopping 35% in one year. Of course the industry itself has shot itself in the foot by massaging, if not flagrantly violating, its own emission standards.

So what’s to be done:-

  • Innovation, Innovation & more innovation. The industry has historically been slow to react to environmental pressures & must now accelerate the switch to hybrid & electric vehicles.
  • A customs union with the EEC as a minimum is essential – it is now time for the industry to get off the fence & start lobbying hard. Las year inward investment was down 181 billion & outward investment up 150 billion. This is a direct result of #Brexit & action is needed now!

chris@amberhill-associates.com

www.amberhill-associates.com

Dyson Car to ‘hoover up’ competition……#innovation

Dyson-carSir James Dyson has revealed what many automotive industry insiders already knew by rumour – his company is developing an Electric car ! The fact that Dyson have no automotive precedence or manufacturing facility should not be seen as a show stopper – there is plenty of subcontract capacity available (at a price) although his timescale of 2 years to volume manufacture is probably over ambitious.

Many current Automotive specialists will laugh at the idea of Dyson moving into this arena with its complex & demanding legislative requirements but perhaps that is missing the point.

Dyson recently bought innovative Solid State battery development company Sakti3 for $90 million & half of Dysons $2.7 billion will be spent on battery development.

The batteries developed by Sakti3 are Solid State which offer much higher energy densities & battery life than current Lithium Ion batteries.

Perhaps the likely scenario is that Dyson will use his Electric car to showcase the real diamond in the rough – a vastly superior battery technology which will then be licensed to the main automotive players enabling the Wiltshire Innovator to truly ‘clean up’

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhillassociates.com

“Beam me up Scotty”………………………….#innovation

The UK Governments recent announcement to ban the sale of new diesel & petrol cars by 2040 is just another exercise in ‘smoke & mirrors’ & puts most of the onus on Local Authorities – “The government will require councils to produce local air quality plans which reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the fastest possible time.”

By 2040 Technology may have advanced to the point where we no longer even drive ‘cars’

Looking back 23 years ago was when the world wide web was born. No iPhones, No Google, no Netflix, mobile phones had batteries bigger than the phone & we watched movies on VHS tapes. Back then only 7% of cars were diesel – that was before the Government encouraged the production & purchase of diesel cars in an effort to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions in the face of global warming.

There is no doubt that in the next few years Electric cars will begin to dominate the market; all of the big players already have plans in place to make at least 50% of all new models Electric.

The biggest challenge is having the infrastructure in place to keep pace, charging points at workplaces & in Cities will be a massive bottleneck in the near future. They are committing 100 million GBP to this in the way of grants & this is a good start but unlikely to deliver the required changes fast enough. Anyone who has driven on the M6 regularly will tell you they have been building a ‘smart’ motorway for 4 years & it is not due for completion until 2019.

Read about the Government Plan for Clean Air Quality here & form your own opinion.

As we move towards an era of electric autonomous vehicles the biggest threat to the manufacturers will be that of ownership. If I can summon a car on my mobile & get driven anywhere – a grander form of ‘Uber’ – why would I want to ‘own’ one.

By 2040 I may be able to teleport via quantum entanglement – no doubt the Government will have to invent a new tax to replace that currently used to tax the roads.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

Auto Industry at a crossroads………….#innovation

Despite claims to the contrary there is little doubt that the Automotive Industry has lagged behind major social trends in terms of energy efficiency, global climate change & emissions.

For decades the industry did little to improve fuel efficiency until the oil crisis of the early 1970’s brought about the demise of gas guzzling V8’s & V12’s.

The industry now faces a perfect storm of stricter emissions controls particularly regarding Nitrous Oxide emitting Diesels & consumer pressure for a ‘green’ alternative.

This has all been exacerbated by the Volkswagen emissions scandal although to be fair to the Automotive suppliers they have been reacting to social pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (from petrol cars) backed by Government incentives to increase diesel motors at the expense of petrol. This has been promoted in the U.K & elsewhere by reducing Road Tax on Diesel cars & making petrol relatively expensive.

Governments seem to conveniently forget it takes 5-7 years to bring a new model to market from initial concept to volume sales.

Whereas most of the major manufacturers have invested heavily in electric & hybrid alternatives they face disruption from ‘new’ players in the market like Tesla. Indeed future competition will come from the Technology sector & not the traditional Automotive sector.

It has been estimated that up to 80% of new cars are bought via ‘cheap’ finance, readily available due to historically low global interest rates. This cannot last & already there is talk of a finance bubble ready to burst.

The Auto industry faces many challenges over the coming years & needs to be fleet of foot & responsive to customer needs if they are to survive the next decade when technology & social changes will only become more pronounced.

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

Globalisation is Good………………………………..#innovation

design-processMuch has been said about the ‘evils’ of Globalisation & the impact on impoverished workers resulting in Brexit in the U.K & Trumps victory over the pond. But what about the positive impacts of Globalisation which are rarely trumpeted (excuse the pun)

The export of manufacturing jobs from the West to Asia has undoubtedly impacted on job security in the West but what about the subsequent cost reduction in the price of consumer products.

Also, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in China & Asia as a result.

Those very same products are bought by the same people who moan about foreigners stealing their jobs. A TV which can be bought for £200 in a UK supermarket would cost may times that if manufactured in the UK.

Protectionism is no answer to under employment. All that will happen is the Countries affected by Tariffs will introduce their own in ‘revenge’, take the auto industry as an example.

Every car manufactured in the U.S contains hundreds of components which are made abroad. If each of these components increases in costs the unit cost of the car goes up reducing competitive advantage & ultimately the business is bankrupt.

In the end everyone loses as bureaucracy strangles innovation & the economy shrinks.

The only way to ‘protect’ jobs is by investing in education & innovation. By producing individuals who can develop & create the products & services of the future. These will be made wherever it is cheapest to do so lifting the impoverished up the socio economic ladder & increasing their own economic power.

In the UK manufacturing is only 10% of the economy but we have some of the worlds best design & development Engineers earning good salaries creating innovative products even if they are manufactured overseas.

Apple is recognised as one of the Worlds most successful & innovative corporations employing thousands in well paying jobs – but not a single iPhone is made in the USA.

‘Putting America first’ may give short term gains but will ultimately end in disaster.

chris@amberhill-associates.com

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

Gnomes predict AI to cause 7 million job losses……….#technology

artificial-intelligenceIn the U.K today salaries have barely risen in real terms in the last decade & despite decreasing unemployment many find themselves in the precarious position of holding short term contracts with minimal security.

It is hardly surprising that the introduction of Artificial Intelligence & automated technology fills many with dread.

The subject was recently discussed in Davos at the annual WEF meeting & the World Economics Forum predict a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of 2 million new positions. (in 15 leading countries)

Like all new technologies there will be gainers & losers, most of the job losses will be in customer service industries & healthcare whereas the 2 million jobs will be mainly highly paid engineering & scientific roles to deliver these new technologies.

Of course none of this is inevitable. ‘The Future’ is not a destination which already exists & to which we travel inexorably. We all create the future & it is largely a result of the political & ideological choices we make on the journey.

Happy 2017.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

Petrol Head Dead ? #innovation

In today’s Guardian Newspaper there is an article which describes Jaguar Land Rovers plans to invest millions in Electric car & battery technology creating up to 10,000 extra jobs in the UK.  According to Greg Clark the Business Secretary this Technology will form a key component of the Governments Industrial strategy which is to be revealed in the coming weeks.  Part of this will no doubt involve the development of autonomous vehicles which will whisk us from A to B with hardly a conscious thought. In fact current concerns regarding mobile phone texting & driving will disappear as our motors transform into mobile offices & theporsche-911-vintage commute we used to gather our thoughts and prepare for the day ahead is lost forever to the ever encroaching working day – whatever happened to ‘working from home’ ?

Anyone who travels regularly on the UK’s roads realises that the ‘joys of motoring’ were probably last experienced in the 1960’s. Most roads are so congested it is virtually impossible to put your foot down & enjoy the thrills of the road unless you journey to remote parts of Scotland.

The increasing adoption of autonomous vehicles will kill off the ‘petrol head’ forever – as the act of driving becomes more  passive & our senses are cut off from the experience.

Fairly soon driving enthusiasts will join their steam train colleagues in the anorak brigades.

But hang on; maybe, just maybe, there are enough of us out there who hate the idea of autonomous vehicles & want to buy a car to drive. Perhaps we are many & some of the Automotive manufacturers will realise that a sizeable proportion of their customers actually enjoy driving when the conditions allow & want to buy a car to drive it, not the other way round.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

 

Throw away your Television……..#technology #innovation

john_logie_baird_1st_image80 years ago this week was the first continuous TV transmission by the infant BBC using Technology developed by the Scottish innovator John Logie Baird. Back then the nascent industry was thriving with many competing pioneers much like the denizens of the World Wide Web decades later.

Like most Technologies only the rich could afford to participate as TV sets cost many multiples of the average wage but as the receivers became mass produced  more & more of us joined the TV owners club.

Today it is estimated that 80% of the world’s households own at least one TV so it doesn’t matter if you live in a Palace or the poorest slum you can still be dreaming of Californication.

As the technology developed from black & white to colour in the 1960’s & then digital110-samsung in the 1990’s the image quality improved dramatically. Screens became larger as the image density increased. Samsung have just announced the first commercially available 110 inch screen !

In parallel the content has expanded exponentially as has the proportion using pay per view services so we have an almost infinite choice of programmes to watch from all over the Globe.

The most watched event in the history of TV was the 1969 Moon Landings with an estimated 503 million viewers word wide. Friends crowded round their more affluent neighbours sets to watch a grainy black & white image as Neil Armstrong took a ‘Giant leap for mankind’ his famous words distorted across the void.

Despite all this ‘progress’ its ironic how many of us still complain that there is ‘nothing on TV tonight’

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

The Future is Electric……………….#innovation

The main constraints of electric car technology – range & charging time – have been surmounted by an exciting ‘new’ technology developed by research company Nanoflowcell.

quantinoUsing a liquid battery technology originally developed in the 1950’s & perfected by NASA their Quantino concept car combines positively & negatively charged fluids in fuel cell to generate electricity & harmless water vapour.

The car has achieved a range of over 600 miles on one ‘charge’

Major OEM’s have shown a lot of interest in the technology and the company is in talks with one ‘large manufacturer’ to put the technology into production.

Time will tell but there is little doubt – the automotive future is electric.

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com