Jaguar Land Rover set to build electric cars in UK

Jaguar cars at a dealer outlet in London. Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will manufacture an all-electric version of the Jaguar XJ sedan in the UK. (AP)
Updated 06 July 2019

Jaguar Land Rover set to build electric cars in UK

  • Vehicle production will secure thousands of jobs in boost to post-Brexit Britain

LONDON: Car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has decided to produce a range of electric vehicles at its central England factory, it announced Friday, securing thousands of jobs in a major boost to post-Brexit Britain.

“Jaguar Land Rover today revealed plans to manufacture a range of new electrified vehicles at its manufacturing plant in Castle Bromwich, UK,” the Indian-owned group said in a statement.

The facility in Birmingham, Britain’s second biggest city, will produce the electric vehicles in an investment worth £1 billion ($1.3 billion) according to the Financial Times.

The first car to roll off the production line at Castle Bromwich, which currently employs 2,500 workers, will be the next-generation all-electric Jaguar XJ luxury saloon model.

The news is a welcome fillip for the nation’s largely foreign-owned car sector, which has long warned over the impact of Britain’s looming departure from the EU at the end of October.

FASTFACT

 

• £70m - Britain’s auto sector has said that a no-deal Brexit could cost UK-based carmakers up to £70 million ($89 million) daily through delays to production.

Batteries will be made in neighboring Hams Hall, Warwickshire, while electric motors will be manufactured at JLR’s engine plant close to the nearby city of Wolverhampton.

“Today’s announcement, which safeguards several thousand jobs in the UK, is the next stage in execution of Jaguar Land Rover’s electrification strategy,” JLR added.

The group aims to offer electrified options for all new Jaguar and Land Rover models by 2020.

“The future of mobility is electric and as a visionary British company, we are committed to making our next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the UK,” said JLR Chief Executive Ralf Speth.

The investment, praised as “trailblazing” by Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, follows an agreement for employees to work a four-day week as part of restructuring plans.

“This is a proud day for our members and Jaguar Land Rover,” said Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing.

Cardiff University professor Peter Wells cautioned that Brexit was probably not a major factor in JLR’s decision, given its existing UK manufacturing operations and declining consumer demand for high-polluting diesel cars.

“The company is constrained by what they’ve got ... it’s not really a Brexit-related decision,” Wells told AFP.

“It’s more an issue that has been forced upon the company, perhaps faster than they had wanted.

“The market is changing across the world quicker than many car companies have anticipated, so in that respect the company was essentially forced to invest in the UK — even though it’s not perhaps ideal in terms of reaching those key European markets.”

Britain’s auto sector had warned last week that a no-deal Brexit could cost UK-based carmakers up to £70 million ($89 million) daily through delays to production.

JLR, which launched its first electric vehicle I-PACE last year, is meanwhile late to develop its strategy for the segment.

“It is not alone in being late ... but certainly, given that the Nissan Leaf has been out for many years now, and Tesla has been making waves for some time in the kind of segments that Jaguar and Land Rover operate in, then clearly there is concern,” Wells said.

“It’s not so easy to ramp up the production of electric vehicles at this point because of concerns over supply — the battery technology and the materials needed.


Technology will not replace labor despite rapid digital transformation

Updated 28 January 2020

Technology will not replace labor despite rapid digital transformation

  • Hayman said he believes technology should help people and offer them support rather than replace them
  • The UAE is among the top performers in the Middle East in terms of digital transformation in industrial sectors

ABU DHABI: Digital technology will not replace labor; the aim of it is to improve areas of inefficiency in different industrial sectors, CEO of AVEVA Group plc Craig Hayman told Arab News.

Most sectors around the world from retail to financial services and telecommunication, have been digitized in some way, according to Hayman.

But while this widespread introduction of digital technology inevitably reduces costs and increases efficiencies in the workplace, it is also seen by many as the death knell for their jobs.

A 2019 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that approximately 14 percent of workers globally will face a high risk of their jobs one day becoming automated and “32 percent face major changes in the tasks required in their job and, consequently, the skills they would need to do their job.”

Another 2017 McKinzy&Company report said up to 800 million workers around the world could be replaced by robots by 2030.

But Hayman said he believes technology should help people and offer them support rather than replace them.

“In the industries AVEVA serves, there are so many areas of inefficiency that we are delivering improvement for without any replacement of labor. It is more about giving the people more tools to effectively do their jobs,” he added.

For example, Hayman said, a worker who is doing maintenance repair is given the tools to know more about the correct isolation procedures around this repair.

OECD’s 2019 report said the effect of digitization on labor will not be evenly distributed nor happen at a steady pace. “It is most likely to be concentrated in certain jobs, selected sectors and particular geographical areas, and may move in fits and starts,” the report adds.

While digital technology around the world began to witness a transformation in the last decade across different industrial sectors, the Middle East has become a major contributor to this transformation.

The UAE is among the top performers in the Middle East in terms of digital transformation in industrial sectors, Hayman said.

A 2016 report by McKinzy&Company also said the UAE ranks the top in adopting digital technology and it matches the world’s digital leaders on several metrics.

Hayman said he believes there is a strong digital ambition in the region. “I think some of the digital projects in the Middle East are starting to yield good results. We have seen this with customers like Al-Marai and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).”

In the UAE’s oil and gas sector for example, there is ADNOC’s Panorama Digital Command Centre which is a real-time data visualisation centre that offers insights and identifies new ways to improve performance. “The Panorama Digital Command Centre is known around the world; that was an eight-week project for us almost two years ago,” Hayman said.

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan inaugurated ADNOC's advanced Panorama Command Centre and Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform on Nov 12, 2017. (WAM)

Saudi Arabia’s Aramco has also established tech projects such as “the use of robots and self-guided autonomous devices in remote inspection and maintenance in plant areas, and the installation of smart sensors with advanced analytic capabilities,” according to a 2018 report by Aramco.

When asked how much companies spend to digitize their services in the oil and gas sector, Hayman said about $250 billion a year was spent in capital expenditure in the oil and gas sector.

Saudi Arabia has adopted a digital transformation strategy that began in 2019 and is expected to conclude in 2022. The strategy’s “main components are digital health, digital education, e-commerce, and smart cities,” a 2019 report by the Saudi National Platform said.

On health, the Kingdom launched a telemedicine technology in which in 2019 it saved a million lives out of which 10,000 were critical, the Kingdom’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha said in a panel discussion held in Davos at this year’s World Economic Forum.

Telemedicine is a technology that provides electronic clinical services to patients without an in-person visit.

In the digital education sector, Saudi Arabia established the Saudi Digital Library (SDL), which is said to be the largest collection of academic information resources in the Arab world, according to the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education. “SDL includes over 310,000 scientific references covering the different academic disciplines. The content of the library is continuously updated, providing huge resources of knowledge in the long run.”

When asked about the opportunities and challenges the digital trend creates for entrepreneurs, Hayman said if an entrepreneur can deliver technology in the context of trust and partnership, he or she is definitely moving on the right track.

A 2019 report by the World Economic Forum said digital technology can help the government and private sectors to create initiatives that form “a holistic global entrepreneurial ecosystem that enables sharing, learning and access to resources at a mass scale and at low cost.”