Automotive Latest News – August 2018

Electric vehicles are dominating discussions surrounding the future of the automotive industry, from supercars to electrical appliance manufacturer Dyson’s developments, many businesses are looking to utilise EVs. Dyson might be best known for its electrical appliances such as vacuum cleaners and hair dryers, but the UK company is now focusing on entering the electric vehicle space. The company has just trademarked the term “Digital Motor” in the European market, as it prepares to launch the first of several new electric vehicles.

Dyson’s work with next-generation solid state batteries, has resulted reportedly in a faster charging period and a longer battery duration than ones currently used in EVs. Many manufacturers are now working to introduce the technology, but Dyson is said to have made the new batteries the core of its project. It is not just Dyson who are focusing on electric vehicles, from nation-wide initiatives to one-off electric supercars, EVs are dominating both automotive conversations and plans.

The UK government pledged earlier this year, that at least half of all new cars sold in Britain should be low carbon by 2030. The proposal – which could dramatically reduce emissions – is outlined in the Road to Zero strategy, this sets out the government’s approach to increase the amount of zero emission cars, vans and trucks on UK roads.

Britain will also end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, as stated in the government’s Air Quality initiative, as part of plans to make the UK world-leading in electric and energy efficient vehicles. However, with previous initiatives encouraging diesel car production and consumption over a decade ago, is it fair for the automotive industry to have to undertake this massive restructure?

As long as the sector is supported by leadership and not just part of a plan, then there is no reason why the proposals should not be carried out, especially if they are actually realistic. However, without funding, support, guidance and more, the proposals are nothing more than loose plans.

The number of cars manufactured in the UK fell 11% last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said. The trade body said the slide compared with July 2017 was due to model changes, seasonal adjustments and preparation for stricter new emissions standards. A total of 121,051 cars were produced in July. That was down from 135,954 cars in the same month last year.

A total of 121,051 cars were produced in July. That was down from 135,954 cars in the same month last year. Last July was a particularly strong month, with the launch of several new models boosting output by almost 10,000 units. It also resulted in a 17.7% rise in domestic demand.

Production of cars for export also fell in July by 4.2%, but overall for the year to date, exports only dropped by 1.2%, and continued to account for just over 80% of output.

Dyson has unveiled plans for a 10-mile test track in Wiltshire where its new electric cars will be put through their paces. The track and other facilities are part of a plan to start selling a “radical” electric car from 2021. The company best known for its vacuums and domestic appliances bought the disused airfield at Hullavington two years ago. Dyson has already renovated two hangars built in 1938 at the 517-acre site. That redevelopment has cost £84m and the next phase of the airfield’s development would take Dyson’s total investment to £200m. About 400 automotive staff are now based at Hullavington and a further three buildings will open in the coming months, offering an additional 15,000sq m of testing space.

Sir James Dyson, 71, is yet to reveal any details about his electric car and no prototype has been built. However, it is expected to be aimed at the upper end of the market, will have “some” driverless features and may not even look like a conventional vehicle. The hints suggest Dyson’s vehicle is more likely to rival Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla than the likes of Toyota or Volkswagen. It remains unclear where Dyson plans to build its electric car.

The company, whose products cost as much as £500, came in for criticism in 2002 for its decision to move production of its vacuum cleaners from the UK to Malaysia at the cost of 560 jobs. Dyson, which made its 100 millionth machine last year, posted a 40% rise in turnover to £3.5bn as sales soared in Asia, while profits jumped by a third to a record £801m.  It has more than 12,000 staff, including 4,500 engineers and scientists, with 4,800 employees in the UK. The company is based close to Hullavington at Malmesbury, where it has set up a training institute for technology and engineering students. The R&D site was originally an RAF training station, first opened in 1937, and it played a significant part.

Luxury carmaker Aston Martin says it may float on the London stock market, completing a turnaround that has seen the firm boost sales and profits. The listing would be the first by a UK carmaker for years, following the sale of brands such as Jaguar, Bentley and Rolls-Royce to foreign owners. Analysts say the firm, which also on Wednesday posted half-year profits of £42m, would be worth up to £5bn.  Its main shareholders are an Italian investment fund and Kuwaiti investors. The 105-year-old carmaker said in its announcement that it would initially float a minimum of 25% of the company.

It expects full-year sales for 2018 to rise to between 6,200 and 6,400 units, and in the medium-term it aims to build nearly 10,000 in the 2020 calendar year. Part of the turnaround strategy involved targeting female buyers – no easy task given the company has sold fewer than 4,000 cars to women in its 105-year history. Aston Martin must be less dependent on a narrow portfolio and one type of customs. Aston Martin exports 25% of its car to the European Union; “We’d probably benefit from a weaker pound” commented a representative. However, they said the carmaker was increasing its stockpile of engines, made in Germany, from here to five days “just to live a little bit of insulation” against Brexit disruption.

It expects full-year sales for 2018 to rise to between 6,200 and 6,400 units, and in the medium-term it aims to build nearly 10,000 in the 2020 calendar year.

Alongside the flotation announcement, Aston Martin also disclosed its first-half results, reporting an 8% year-on-year sales increase to £445m for the six months ended 30 June. It said the performance was driven by its consulting business as well as increased revenue from sales of its special edition vehicles, including the Vanquish Zagato family and DB4 GT Continuation models.