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Automotive News, July 2018

High-performance testing and development engineers from Toyota Motorsport have joined forces with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in a bid to remain in pole position of the automotive technology grid. Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), whose parent company is Toyota Motor Corporation, has built its reputation in motorsport via World Rally, Formula 1 and now the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the Le Mans 24 Hours.

In parallel to its motorsport activities, TMG also carries out a wide range of automotive projects, and joined the AMRC as a Tier 2 partner with a focus on research and development of lightweight materials. The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a world-class centre for research into advanced manufacturing technologies used in the aerospace, automotive, Typical and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

The AMRC is a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and has a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide.

The company, which has its own facilities for CNC, composites and additive manufacturing, will, therefore, put itself at the front of the pack when it comes to keeping track of the latest trends in materials and manufacturing techniques.

The quest for metal light weighting – the ability to make parts lighter – is prompting a whole new way to think about design and manufacture. A key enabler of light weighting is metal additive manufacturing – also known as metal 3D printing – which produces high quality, complex parts that are impossible to achieve through traditional manufacturing processes

The number of cars made in the UK fell last month after domestic demand plunged due to what Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The SMMT blamed preparation for new emissions tests and new car models for what it said was a “one-month anomaly”.

More than eight out of ten cars made in Britain are exported and the SMMT said that this had continued to drive production with overseas orders helping to “bolster disappointing domestic demand”.

It said overseas orders were “broadly stable” in the first half of this year, meaning car production was down just 3.3% for the first half of the year. But Mr Hawes said the reliance of the UK market on exports demonstrated the importance of the industry’s “dependency on free and frictionless trade”.

The SMMT said last month that investment in the industry had fallen by half with Brexit uncertainty “thwarting” decisions by major car companies to put more money into UK factories. But Mr Hawes said that the UK’s government’s latest Brexit proposals were “a step in the right direction to safeguard future growth, jobs and consumer choice”.

Three out of the top five fastest growing markets for the UK automotive sector are now outside Europe, according to new research.  The top five fastest growing markets for the UK automotive sector now include the US, Japan and Australia where UK exports are growing at 4.3%, 3% and 2.6% respectively.

The Netherlands and Italy make up the remaining top five where exports are expected to grow at 4.3% and 2.1% per year to 2021. In all, automotive exports to these five markets were reportedly worth $17.9bn last year; with their projected growth expected to generate an extra $677.7m a year for UK exports to 2021.

At $54.7bn the automotive sector is the second largest export sector by value in the UK behind machinery and components, at $55bn. Automotive exports as a whole are expected to grow by more than 1.7% annually to 2021. This makes the UK the fourth fastest growing automotive exporter globally, behind Mexico China and Spain respectively.

The UK automotive industry is vital to the UK economy and hugely significant within UK manufacturing. The companies in the sector account for £104bn in turnover, created nearly 340,000 direct jobs and a further 814,000 in the whole sector value chain in 2017. Overall, automotive exports were worth $54.7bn in 2017, nearly half a billion more than in 2016.

UK automotive imports were worth $85.6bn in 2017 – an increase of more than $5bn from 2016. The UK imports an estimated 42% of the value of the cars it exports and has a large trade deficit in the automotive sector. Looking at components in more detail, the UK has a trade deficit in gear boxes, dashboards, brakes, windscreen glass, rev and speed monitors, and bumpers and bumper parts. Only in radiators and engines does the UK export roughly what it imports.

The situation is similar for powertrain and assembly components where the UK has a deficit across all areas other than car seats where there is a modest surplus. Parts in deficit are safety belts, chassis with engines, silencers and exhausts, car bodies, suspension and shock absorbers, tyres, steering wheel and columns, and drive axles.

Land Rover has just enjoyed its best ever month in America, boosted by soaring demand for its Range Rover Sport. The 23% hike in Sport sales helped push up Land Rover sales by 21% to 6,982 cars in June. However, its sister company Jaguar suffered a 20% sales slump compared to June last year. Overall demand for the Range Rover Sport and Velar, Land Rover Discovery and Jaguar’s new baby SUV, the E-Pace, kept Jaguar Land Rover group sales up 7% in June to 9,335.

So far this year the West Midlands-based luxury car maker has seen its US sales up 5% at 59,566 vehicles sold. The sales underline the USA’s importance to Jaguar Land Rover, as one of its biggest markets, highlighting the potential impact of 25% car import taxes proposed by President Trump.

Jaguar Land Rover Solihull has been at the centre of that transformation for more than 10 years, and in 2017 it won The Manufacturer Manufacturing Excellence Award for ‘Leadership and Strategy at the first attempt.

Since the 2008 buyout of Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) by India’s Tata Motors, JLR has become a global success story. Tata’s strategy was to invest heavily in growth at a time when Other multinationals were retrenching following the worldwide financial crash.

Since then, JLR has continued to invest, boosting output to a record 621,109 vehicles sold in 130 countries in 2017, and creating thousands of jobs. Production is growing globally, with plants in China and Brazil and a plant opening at the end of the year in Slovakia.

The losses of the first few years have been turned into global profits, which are invested back into the business. A little over 10 years ago. Jaguar and Land Rover produced a handful of models. Now they offer hundreds of models and specification derivatives – highly relevant, desirable products at the forefront of technology thanks to the £22bn invested over the past decade.

JLR is one of the biggest investors in research and development in the UK, with a further £4.2bn being invested in 2017/18 FY. That kind of visionary, strategic leadership is now the stuff of business textbooks. Simplification and standardisation of systems have undoubtedly helped Solihull’s 10,000-strong workforce to deliver JLR’s strategy and adopt continuous change.