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

 

Lessons Learned – #Coronavirus

What a couple of weeks! – the world has tilted on its axis & society has changed forever plunging millions into unemployment & causing thousands of deaths worldwide. In most parts of the world bustling cities have ground to a halt as people self isolate in their homes.

So what have we learned ?

  1. It’s not all about the ‘economy stupid’ – peoples lives are actually more important than GDP growth & the ‘bottom line’ but  let’s see what happens when the medical emergency is over & the debt has to be repaid. Unlike the 2008 Financial crash we must not allow the poor to carry the overwhelming burden. If we have to learn anything from this after 10 years of austerity we cannot allow the mentally ill, the sick, the impoverished & the disabled to bear the brunt of fiscal cuts – the wealthy will have to pay their share in the form of a higher tax burden – anything less would be criminally negligent & social breakdown the result.
  2. Humans are naturally altruistic – half a million people in the UK have came out of retirement to support the beleaguered NHS & social care sector & millions have rallied round to support their neighbours & friends. As a social species we depend on one another to survive & thrive.
  3. The ‘Magic Money Tree’ has been well & truly discovered – here in the UK hundreds of millions have been found to subsidise 80% of wages & support the economy in the face of an unprecedented decline in economic activity.
  4. Working from home IS possible – for many millions of us. This unprecedented event has demonstrated the capability of communications technology like no other so when it is allover the reluctance to allow home working has been swept away.
  5. Some of us cannot work from home – people making things in factories & workshops have to be physically present to enable this – despite all the theory & academic studies  about A.I & robot technology we are a long long way from this in reality.
  6. Restrictions on travel have clearly demonstrated that 90% of journey’s are completely unnecessary. Sorry but International air travel for your sales conference or  Davos event is no longer socially acceptable.We like having less pollution – take a look at the sky.
  7. The sooner we return to normal the better. Really – maybe we don’t want to return to Normal.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

Time for a #Change ?….

BrexitRegardless of one’s political views it is easy to see the current mire of Brexit is a classic example of how not to manage change.
By failing at every level the process has become stuck in the mud regardless of whether you were a remainer or an ardent Brexiteer; confusion reigns supreme & it is difficult to see a way out of the mess without seriously ‘cheesing off’ large portions of the population.
According to John Kotter, a Professor at Harvard Business School there are 8
key steps to change:-
  1. Create Urgency: There needs to be a compelling case for change, and it’s up to the project leader to explain that reason clearly so people understand and are inspired to change.
  2. Form a Powerful Coalition: One person cannot shoulder the change themselves. It requires a team, so it’s important to collect the key people to help enable that change.
  3. Create a Vision for the Change: Make it short, clear, relevant and easy to understand by the people who are going to be affected by the change.
  4. Communicate the Vision: Communicate the change, but don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk of the change and have it reflected throughout the project.
  5. Remove Obstacles: As you work towards implementing change, you will hit both physical and emotional obstacles, so you and the team need to help people overcome these blocks by listening to their concerns and seeking their feedback.
  6. Create Short-Term Wins: By demonstrating the benefits of the change early in the process you’re more likely to get buy-in and expedite the process overall.
  7. Build on the Change: Don’t think you’re done too early in the process. Instead, repeat the above steps for awhile and let the change settle in.
  8. Anchor the Change: Finally, make sure the change sticks by embedding it in the organizational procedures, operating models and people’s day-to-day work
So applying these key steps to Brexit:-
1) Create Urgency – why did Brexit have to be triggered so soon after the Referendum & without a clear definition of what the destination was. Given the current debate about what Brexit actually means this was never spelt out clearly or defined to a fine enough detail.
2) Form a Powerful coalition – This clearly did not happen. Theresa May is undoubtedly a Politician of fierce determination but lacks the ability to reach out & form alliances even in her own party. She has been thwarted at every turn because she never had the character to reach out to others across the political divide & form a consensus on what Brexit was & how to achieve it.
3) Create a vision for the change – it is still a matter of conjecture whether Brexit involves a customs union, agreed access to the common market, etc etc – ask 10 different people what Brexit is & you get 11 different answers.
4) Communicate the Vision – ‘Nuff said.
5) Remove Obstacles – it seems as if the longer the process staggers on the more obstacles are thrown in its way. This is a direct result of not having a clearly defined end goal & strategy.
6) Create short term wins – difficult to see any evidence of this.
7) Build on Change – yet to see this achieved.
8) Anchor the change  – Ditto.
It is incredulous to believe that a major western Democratic Government has embarked on a Change of this magnitude without adopting the very basis tenets of Change Management.
chris@amberhill.biz

Happy 2019!!!………………#UltimaThule

As we enter 2019 there is a lot of uncertainty, Brexit, Trump’s Whitehouse, China’s economy, crashing stock markets to name but a few. However 2019 is also the 50th Anniversary of the magnificent moon landings when mankind took its first tentative steps into the Universe with courage and conviction.

As we celebrate this great achievement an unmanned Nasa probe – ‘New Horizons’ will be approaching a tiny rocky world :- ‘Ultima Thule’ is only 30km wide & is 6.5 billion kilometres from Earth, situated in the Kuiper belt a band of frozen material that orbits the Sun. Ultima is a further billion miles beyond Pluto & is the farthest body in our Solar System to be surveyed.

The intention is to beam back to Earth images & data from the probe in the early hours of the New Year.

Over the decades NASA has contributed a massive amount of invaluable knowledge for ‘the benefit of all mankind’ – long may it continue.

Happy New Year

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

 

 

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

 

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

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