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Automotive News, Early May 2019

AUTOMOTIVE

 

Jaguar Land Rover is developing the next phase of its innovative aluminium recycling initiative which reuses the aluminium in its current vehicles to make the cars of tomorrow. The project, which is co-funded by Innovate UK, aims to recover aluminium from existing JLR vehicles and reform it into new high-grade aluminium to create new cars. The process is currently being tested on early, pre-production Jaguar I-PACE prototypes, which have had their batteries removed. These batteries are processed, while the remaining materials from the vehicles are sorted. Once the aluminium is separated, it is melted and reformed.

 

When operating at full capacity, the REALITY project is expected to reduce the CO2 impact of production while reducing the amount of virgin aluminium required producing vehicles. Over the past five years, around 300,000 tonnes of closed-loop scrap have been processed back into the automotive manufacturer’s lightweight aluminium car structures, across all vehicle lines.

 

 

In 2014, the Jaguar XE model was the first vehicle in the world to use aluminium alloy grade RC5754 for its body panels, which contains up to 75% recycled aluminium. Approximately half of the body structure is made of aluminium alloy grades that contain a significant amount of recycled aluminium content.

 

JLR currently uses 180,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, a small fraction of the 80 million tonnes produced globally each year. It is already one of the most widely recycled materials with circa 75% of all aluminium ever produced still in circulation.

 

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Lightweight castings company Sarginsons Industries is planning a £300,000 investment in ‘over-roofing’ its current premises to allow for expansion and a more efficient layout. The company grew turnover from £6.5m to £8.4m in 2018, which included a significant increase in profits.

 

The company, employing 83 staff, had been looking to expand into new premises in the region for over a year but was struggling to find a suitable location.

Instead, Sarginsons now plans invest £300,000 on an upgrade to its current HQ that will help to modernise the facility and future-proof the company.

 

It would see the company ‘over-roofing’ the present building which will open up significant space within the unit and allow the company to lay out the factory floor in a more efficient way. Sarginsons has been investing in R&D and new technology on an ongoing basis and the changes to the property will allow the firm to ensure it is making the most of that investment to continue its growth.

 

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The Government has launched a £16 million programme to help make the UK’s advanced automotive manufacturing supply chain more competitive.

 

SMMT Industry Forum the organisation set up by the UK government, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and vehicle manufacturers to improve the competitiveness of the UK’s automotive supply chain is to play an important role in the new initiative.

 

The National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels (NMCL) programme, is funded by the government as part of its Industrial Strategy, and Automotive Sector Deal, and has been jointly developed by the automotive and aerospace sectors. It aims to assess and improve competitiveness, raise workforce capacity and increase productivity of all types of UK manufacturers.

 

Along with other national providers SMMT Industry Forum, will support the programme by helping companies understand how they can develop their business to become more competitive and win more orders. The SMMT Industry Forum already has a successful record of accomplishment in this area, including improvement delivery in the government-funded Long Term Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness (LTASC) programmes, which created, and also safeguarded jobs, trained people and leveraged more than £41m private investment. It has also been involved in piloting the new NMCL model in the North West of England.

 

Dr Chris Owen, Chief Executive of SMMT Industry Forum, commented, “We’re delighted that NMCL has now been endorsed by government in this way. We have taken over 25 years of experience operating in Automotive and Aerospace sectors to enable us to develop this approach to help manufacturers understand their current capabilities and competitiveness and quickly work out where and how to invest to make big improvements. NMCL is now very much open for business and we’re looking forward to helping more than 170 companies achieve their potential.”

 

NMCL is designed to help manufacturers of all sizes and stages of development understand how competitive they currently are and develop the specific business capabilities they need to boost their performance. The programme includes an in-depth competitiveness assessment based on company capabilities and the views of key customers. This data is applied to investment decisions across six areas of competitiveness; quality, cost, delivery, flexibility, products/technology and the customer experience. Projects are tailor-made for each manufacturer and focus on boosting competitiveness, increasing ‘value-add’ and winning more orders. Companies can undertake 6 month focussed improvement projects through to multi-year company transformations depending on their potential and ambition.

 

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The boss of the luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda has suggested his firm could benefit if sterling collapses following a no-deal Brexit.

 

Andy Palmer has hinted the firm’s cars might become cheaper to buy if the UK withdraws from the EU without an agreement in place.

 

He told an automotive conference in central London that the UK firm is “less exposed” but equally frustrated about the prospect of a hard Brexit compared with other carmakers. “We have more elasticity around pricing because it’s a luxury good,” he said.

 

“If tariffs come in place you can argue we have a greater ability to pass some of that on to the customer. We also note that because we trade and manufacture in pounds, if there’s a hard Brexit the pound will collapse, our cars get cheaper and we can compensate for the tariffs.” However, Mr Palmer warned the impact on the supply of materials from Brexit is “unwelcome”.

 

He said: “The bigger deal is around importation of parts. A substantial part of our cars come from the European Union. “If you cannot make cars on a just-in-time basis, you have to do it in bits. Getting your bits through Dover and Calais, particularly at the start of a no-deal Brexit, is of concern.

 

“We think we’ve done everything we can to preserve those supply chains. We have increased stock; we have changed our supply channels. We’re already bringing parts in through different ports.”

 

Mr Palmer said Aston Martin has increased the UK-based content of its cars to beyond 55% in case the UK is trading under World Trade Organisation rules after Brexit. He added: “All of this is unwelcome. We are absolutely behind the principles of free trade all over the world but in terms of ‘are we ready for a no-deal Brexit’? I think we’re as ready as one can be.”

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Car production has fallen for the ninth month in a row amid declining demand in the UK and overseas countries, new figures reveal, it’s said the continued reduction should be a wake-up call to anyone who believes the industry could survive a no-deal Brexit without “serious damage”.

 

Around 123,200 cars were built in February, down by 15.3% on the same month a year ago. Production for home and export markets dropped by 11% and 16.4% respectively. Production for EU countries declined by 14.9%, while exports to China were 55% lower, said the SMMT.

 

Despite the fall in exports, almost four out of five cars built in the UK were for overseas. The SMMT said the figures underlined the importance of securing a frictionless trading relationship with the EU.

 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The ninth month of decline for UK car production should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks this industry, already challenged by international trade hostilities, declining markets and technological disruption, could survive a no-deal Brexit without serious damage.

 

“A managed no-deal is a fantasy. Uncertainty has already paralysed investment, cost jobs and damaged our global reputation. Business anxiety has now reached fever pitch and we desperately need Parliament to come together to restore stability so that we can start to rebuild investor confidence and get back to the business of delivering for the economy.”

 

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Hard-line no-deal Brexiteers risk driving the jewel in the UK’s manufacturing crown off a cliff edge. “The car industry is facing unprecedented challenges amid weakening global sales and the Government’s demonisation of diesel. With investment plummeting, job losses racking up and Honda planning to leave the UK, it is time for the Government to wake up before it’s too late.

 

“We are in the middle of a manufacturing emergency with 130 manufacturing jobs being lost every day in the UK.

 

“The Government needs to take the Brexit handbrake off its support for the car industry by throwing its full weight behind the fight to persuade Honda to stay in the UK and by properly supporting the transition to electric and alternatively powered vehicles.”