Countdown to zero……………..#EV

The U.K Governments decision to ban the sale of new petrol & diesel cars by 2030 presents some real challenges for the UK Automotive industry. A development lifecycle of 5-7 years is not unusual for a brand new model & when we are looking at a whole different powertrain & chassis with the consequent implications for production assembly then we are talking major developments.

JLR spent over $1 Billion developing its 2014 Engine Plant for Diesel & Petrol Engines, this gives some indication of the huge resource requirements for Battery powered vehicles.

There is a lot of debate as to whether Electric Vehicles actually produce less CO2 than their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)  counterparts but this report from ICCT organisation clearly debunks this.

There is some parallel with the elimination of leaded petrol, responsible for the death of over 5000 adults per year & countless examples of brain damage to children; it took over 12 years from unleaded petrol being available to a European Directive in 2000 before it was eventually banned.

Interestingly the Government announcement makes no mention of exporting ICE vehicles; only sales in the U.K. As we currently export 80% of all UK manufactured cars (admittedly 55% to the Eu) there is a little bit of wriggle room for Manufacturers to continue making ICE cars in lower volumes beyond 2030. There are many part of the World where Electric Vehicles will not prevail for many years to come but in urban conurbations in the ‘developed’ world their ascendancy is without doubt.

This will result in huge engineering & change management opportunities in the ever evolving automotive sector.

There will be much debate over the coming decade about the pro’s & cons of electric cars but there is no doubt about it, after a century of production the Internal Combustion Engine is heading for the breakers yard.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

Where we’re headed in #2021

Wow!! – 2020 – you couldn’t make it up; so where are we headed in 2021?

  • Working from home is now a cultural norm; whatever happens to Coronavirus this is one trend which will not be reversed. Workers who are savvy enough & technologically enabled to work remotely will continue to seek out opportunities which offer this option making its reversal impossible. Declining revenue from City Real Estate will instigate a decline in Inner City Property prices & a mass migration to the suburbs. The London property bubble is well and truly ‘popped’
  • eCommerce market share will continue to increase; if the High Street is not dead it’s on its last legs & is wobbling badly. This will drive eCommerce logistics where same day delivery becomes the norm.
  • ReCommerce sustainability will drive a mass market of re-use & hiring of products for the short term rather than as a one off purchase.This will also impact the automotive market.
  • Cloud storage of data will continue & there will be an even greater emphasis on the customer.
  • In Automotive, the current trends of increasing electrification & automation will drive a decrease in car ownership in the Western  world of around 25%. As new Generation-Z drivers familiar with the cultural trends of shared ownership & reduced carbon footprint migrate away from individual ownership where cars currently spend 95% of their time sat in a parking lot. China will continue to grow driving local manufacturing capacity.
  • Brexit will give UK Auto companies the excuse they are looking for to slash car lines, reduce factory real estate & reduce headcount.

Chris Robinson BSc

www.amberhillassociates.com

 

Automakers on limp mode………#automotive, #manufacturing, #uk, #Covid-19

As the automotive industry limps back to work post Covid-19 the world is a very different place & will stay that way for a long time. The future success of these companies is very dependent on having an adequate electric vehicle proposition as we head towards the next hurdle which is coming up fast – #Brexit & further ahead the abolition of fossil fuels cars in 2035 or even sooner. So what are the implications for manufacturers based in the U.K.

Aston Martin.

Recently announced redundancy for 25% of its workforce & the replacement of CEO Andy Palmer – the future of Aston depends on the success of its DBX SUV model which is built in South Wales. No electric models on the horizon.

Benley.

VW owned Bentley has now returned to work at Crewe but is struggling to maintain capacity & is rumoured to be running at @ 50% following the introduction of social distancing measures – consequently Bentley has announced redundancy plans affecting 25% of the workforce. Bentley doesn’t have a fully electric car but intends to develop one by 2025.

Jaguar Land Rover

JLR has returned to work at Solihull & more recently at Halewood. They have announced today that Castle Bromwich will not re-open until 10th August.  JLR has one electric vehicle at he moment, the award winning I-Pace but this is built at the Magna plan in Austria. Plans are in place to extend the range & to build these cars at Castle Bromwich. JLR has not announced any post covid redundancies having gone through an extensive restructuring exercise in 2018/19 but no one would be too surprised if further cutbacks were announced given the company has lost 3 months production & was recently granted a 500 million loan from 3 Chinese banks.

Nissan

Nissan recently returned to work at it’s Sunderland Plant following an announcement about a post Covid worldwide restructuring which will see the closure of its Barcelona Plant & commitment to Sunderland as a manufacturing centre for Quashqai & Juke SUV’s & could also produce their Renault counterparts the Kadjar & Capture.

This was further quantified by a statement a week later that this all depends on their being frictionless trade with Brussels. Given recent developments failure to achieve this by the EEC & the UK government would be tantamount to a suicide pact.

The other bonus for Nissan is that Sunderland produces 15k of the incredibly successful electric Leafs per year.

Toyota.

There have been no major announcements from Toyota but they have returned to work in Derbyshire producing a range of hybrid vehicles. Toyota’s strategy is to reduce overall carbon emissions by producing hybrid vehicles rather than full electric vehicles due to the current constraints around battery technology.

Mini

Have returned to work at Oxford having remodelled processes around social distancing & are producing some Electric Minis as part of the range.

Lotus 

— Geely group has invested in Lotus heavily & the company has a tight well targeted product range including the fantastic new all electric hypercar the Evija. The company has also benefited from picking up a number of talented & experienced engineers from JLR.

Whatever the next few years brings we will be looking at a tighter, leaner UK Automotive industry with some losers & some big winners depending on their ability to meet the challenges of post Covid, Brexit & Electrification.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

 

 

 

Riding the gravy train #autonomousvehicles #HS2

I’ve got a meeting in the Capital in 2 hours to discuss an important project so I call up an AV by thinking inside the box (which resides in a corner of my brain)

I get an alert inside my brain box & head for the door. I don’t carry any hardware as I’m permanently connected to the cloud.

The AV glides up & an orifice appears so I hop in & relax in the sumptuous surroundings, I click a switch in  my brain box & the vehicle becomes transparent – I want to enjoy the journey today & take a break from screens.

As we travel towards the motorway we pass the old JLR plant, after they moved all production to Slovakia following #brexit the site is now used as a storage facility for expired batteries.

Pretty soon I’m joining the M6 Hyperway, a 12 lane superhighway augmented for AV’s. My AV joins the swarm & accelerates to a steady 130mph surrounded by other AV’s centimetres apart. Statistics prove that travelling in an AV is much safer than air travel.

Shortly we pass the Birmingham Curzon St station – now used as an Art Gallery after the #HS2 project was abandoned when Government subsidies were withdrawn following the election of the Greens.

We’re approaching the Capital now & I’m reflecting on what a great city Manchester is & how its developed since the terminal decline of London after #brexit & the ‘Great Exit’ of the Finance Industry.

As my AV glides through the suburbs & I prepare to disembark I’m laughing at the notion that once upon a time some people thought we would still be using trains that ran on rails!

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.co.uk

 

12 years to save the Earth………………#climatechange

According to the U.N International Panel on Climate Change we have 12 years to reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly enough to cap temperature rise below 1.5 degC or we will suffer irreversible & catastrophic climate change.

The recent severe weather events over the last few years should offer significant warning enough. Although individual events can’t be directly linked to climate change Scientists overwhelmingly agree that it makes the risk of their occurrence ever more likely.

Each of us as citizens of planet earth bears direct responsibility as consumers & as members of Society to put pressure on our Governments now to reduce carbon emissions & make ethical choices in our use of energy & in our choices regarding food production & consumption.

Here in the U.K we can make a small impact by challenging our Government on the development of Fracking which is overwhelmingly opposed by local communities.

Please take 5 minutes to check out this petition   STOP FRACKING NOW

 

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

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

10 things we can learn from the #chinacrisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHINA07

1) What goes up MUST come down – I know it’s obvious but some people really believed it was possible for an economy to grow at 7% per year indefinitely – just ask the punters on the Shanghai Index.

2) Gordon Brown didn’t abolish boom & bust – but then we all learned that 7 years ago. Capitalism, for all its pros & cons, is inherently cyclical.

3) Every Market is interconnected – more so now than ever before, any crisis in China will be replicated to one extent or another around the globe.

4) No Government controls the market – whether its the State Capitalist Chinese or the Western Democracies – intervention is limited in its affect.

5) Transparency is a concern – Is the Chinese economy still growing at 6%, 5% or much less – no one knows & there is a distinct lack of trust in the data supplied by the Chinese government.

6) It will impact us all :- The Chinese economy is the second biggest market in the world & although exports vastly exceed imports the purchasing power of the Chinese middle classes will be severely curbed.

7) Social upheaval will follow – The political tensions in China will erupt (to one degree or another); The Chinese Government will struggle to keep a lid on the educated middle classes who have got used to continuous growth & increased wealth.

8) Capitalism is in crisis – as boom follows bust & vice versa Capital flows to the point of highest growth – leaving chaos in its wake.

9) What comes next ? – no one knows – but maybe we should be looking to develop a sustainable society based on full-filling human needs rather than continuously expanding Gross Domestic product ?

10) The sun still rises in the East, sets in the West & the world keeps on turning.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

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#Innovation leads to Future Disruption……………..#technology

disruptiveIn 1947 Engineers at Bell Labs invented the Transistor. This was followed up by a team at Fairchild Semiconductor who developed the Semiconductor Integrated Circuit (I.C) in 1958. Both examples of ‘Disruptive Technology’ which changed the world forever. The phones & computers we take for granted today would not have been possible without these developments.

The invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 is another example of Disruptive Technology which brings about a seismic shift in society.

So what is the next Disruptive Technology ? In the next posts we will examine some of the emerging technologies which may change the fabric of society forever:-

Graphene – is an allotrope of Carbon which forms a 2D hexagonal lattice one atom thick. It is incredibly strong (100 x that of steel, by weight) & also very light & flexible. It is also incredibly conductive to both electricity & heat. The potential is enormous as a material to be used in the manufacture of aerospace & automotive components.

A number of U.K companies are involved in the development of Graphene including Applied Graphene Materials as are a number of Universities. In March George Osborne officially opened the National Graphene Institute in Manchester  with a government grant of over £38 million.

Once Graphene is produced in industrial quantities its use will transform society with lighter, stronger structures in Aerospace, buildings & Automotive. to name a few. It’s electrical properties will revolutionise electronics. More efficient battery technologies will make electrically powered vehicles commonplace on our roads & its use in solar cell technology will lead to cheaper greener energy.

Graphene will Disrupt Society in ways bounded by our imaginations.

chris@amberhill.biz

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Solar Impulse to go green…………….#innovation

The Technology event which grabbed my attention this week wasn’t the Apple Watch, with its feeble battery life of 17 hrs & dubious applications, it was the most successful solar powered flight ever by the Solar Impulse.

Powered purely by solar energy this amazing craft is part way to completing the first round the world voyage, flying both day & night, powered solely by solar energy.

The implications of this technology are enormous. Every year we spend billions of pounds & consume millions of barrels of oil shipping products across the globe at enormous cost financially and environmentally. If we could harness  solar powered technology to transport a fraction of these goods we will be reducing consumption of fossil fuels & lowering their damaging effect on our fragile eco-system.

We must harness the power of innovation to combat Climate Change & the success of this amazing craft can point us in the right direction.

chris@amberhill.biz

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