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

 

 

 

Bring it all home……#reshoring

A recent survey in The Engineer reported that 59% of correspondents think that bringing manufacturing elements of the Supply Chain back to the UK (#reshoring) should be a priority following the Covid19 Pandemic outbreak.

There are some really good points made in the comments section & following Britain’s exit from the EEC there is no reason why this should not be Government policy, even stimulated by official Government subsidies – but should it ?

There is no denying that ever since the late 1970’s Britains manufacturing base has shrunk from around 32% to 10% of GDP – but does this matter ?

To anyone who has been involved in Engineering & Manufacturing over the last 30 years & who has seen millions of good quality skilled & relatively secure jobs migrate to China & Asia to be replaced by insecure temporary low paying ‘gig economy’ roles the answer  has to be ‘yes’

However we also need to remember this shocking decline was also due to a certain amount of complacency in British Manufacturing as a result of poor Management, sloppy working practices & shoddy quality.

Rebalancing the Economy by encouraging high quality Manufacturing supported by competent Management & Customer focussed Quality Management sounds like a positive move indeed.

Chris Robinson

www.amberhill.biz

6 million dollar man………………………..#computerbrain #innovation #technology

A tetraplegic man has demonstrated direct mind control of a supporting exoskeleton as a direct result of a fascinating project by biomedical research centre Clinatec & the University of Grenoble.

The technology was designed by lead researcher Prof Alim-Lois Benabid who was previously involved in research to develop deep brain stimulation techniques to treat the rigidity & tremors caused by Parkinsons disease. Bernabid & colleagues published their research in the Lancet Neurology.

It involved the direct implant of implants onto the surface of the brain in the area which controls movement. The brain activity was then read & transmitted to a computer which turned the brainwaves into instructions for controlling the exoskeleton.

As technology continues to accelerate, hardware shrinks & software becomes more sophisticated we head towards a future where physical disability will be a thing of the past.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

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

 

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

 

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