UK car sector accelerates toward electric future

Europe witnesses a growing trend for car consumers looking for more environmentally conscious and efficient products. (Reuters)
Updated 22 July 2019

UK car sector accelerates toward electric future

  • A total of 214 models will be available for purchase by 2021, up from 60 in late 2018

LONDON: Britain’s auto industry, seeking to swerve Brexit obstacles, is accelerating toward electrification as consumers shun high-polluting diesels, driven by rapid advances in technology and greener government policy.

Four famous car brands born in Britain but now foreign-owned — German-held Bentley and Mini, Indian-backed Jaguar Land Rover, and Chinese-controlled Lotus — have each this month outlined plans for purely electric models to sit alongside their petrol vehicles.
All-electric cars, which need to be charged from the mains, and hybrids, which combine electrics with petrol or gasoline engines, are gaining in popularity as more consumers turn away from the pollution-spewing internal combustion engine.
“You need to be into electrification,” Lotus Cars chief executive Phil Popham told AFP in an interview after unveiling the firm’s first all-electric sports car Evija — pronounced “E-vi-ya” — which the company will start making next year.
Lotus, 51-percent owned by Chinese auto giant Geely, plans an initial sale of only 130 of the supercars, which will each cost about £1.7 million ($2.1 million).

Heading toward future
“Electrification is absolutely part of our future,” said Popham. “In the not-too-distant future, all of our cars will offer electrification.”
Lotus’ plant in Hethel, eastern England, will see a £100-million investment over the next five years as it ramps up its sports car range with financial firepower and technical knowhow from Geely, which bought its majority stake two years ago. Etika Automotive of Malaysia holds the remaining 49 percent of Lotus.

NUMBER

200 mph will be the top speed of the lotus hypercar Evija.

Popham said the removal of large components, like the internal combustion engine and gearbox, will see the so-called hypercar Evija have an electric motor on each wheel.
It will reach 0-60 miles per hour in three seconds and have a top speed of 200 mph. Fully charged however, it will be able to drive a distance of only 250 miles.
In the more affordable premium market, Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors, is planning a range of electric vehicles at its central England factory — starting with the next-generation Jaguar XJ luxury saloon model.
“The future of mobility is electric,” said JLR CEO Ralf Speth, whose company introduced its first electric vehicle I-PACE last year.
Elsewhere, BMW-division Mini recently launched plans for its first all-electric Mini Cooper at its factory in Cowley, southern England.
“We’ll be able to really react to demand from customers as we go forward because Mini electric (cars) go down exactly the same production line as the traditional combustion engine product,” David George, director of Mini UK, told AFP on a visit to the facility.

SPEEDREAD

In Europe as a whole, the number of electric car models, including hybrids, is set to triple by 2021.

In Europe as a whole, the number of electric car models, including hybrids, is set to triple by 2021, according to Brussels-based environmental lobby group Transport & Environment.
A total of 214 models will be available for purchase by 2021, up from 60 in late 2018, T&E said.
“There is a growing trend for consumers to be looking for more environmentally conscious and efficient products and technologies,” Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark told AFP.
He was speaking in July after the Volkswagen-owned luxury carmaker detailed its futuristic all-electric self-driving concept, the EXP 100 GT, at its facility in central England.
When Nissan unveiled its first mass-market electric car hatchback Leaf nine years ago, the Japanese carmaker described it as a “game-changer” for Britain’s biggest car plant in Sunderland, northeastern England.
Since then, more and more carmakers have sped up plans for more environment-friendly products — and also electrify their current offerings.
However, Cardiff University economics professor and auto specialist Peter Wells lamented the fact that many automakers were merely replicating electric versions of pre-existing models — rather than optimising how they deploy cutting-edge technology.
“The mindset is that the industry should simply replicate the existing petrol/diesel product ranges, only in hybrid and electric,” said Wells.
“In my view, this strategy can still result in less than optimized vehicle designs,” he noted.


Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

This June 23, 2018 photo, shows a general view of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2020

Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

  • Saudi Arabia is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic

RIYADH: The boss of one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest banks says that getting more women into leadership positions is a top priority.
Samba CEO Rania Nashar chairs the action council for Women in Business created by the Business Twenty (B20), which is the official G20 dialogue with the business community. It represents the global business community across all G20 member states and all economic sectors.
She said the council was set up to boost women’s particpation not only in business but also in global leadership positions.
During the launch of the B20 in Saudi Arabia this week, Nashar highlighted the under-representation of women in the economy.
“There is a gap of 27 percent between male and female workers; 75 percent of males are part of the labor force while only 48 percent of females are working,” she said.
She said it was important not to just talk about women as workers but as business owners.

FASTFACT

Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020.

“That’s why entrepreneurship is very fundamental to our task force,” she said.  “The majority of the finance development programs have incentives for giving loans to females; however, despite the fact that many large borrowers are females, the amount of loans granted to them is far below what is granted to males,” she added.
Nashar said that two-thirds of female business founders feel that they were not taken seriously by investors when they pitch for investments. They also feel that they are treated differently from their male counterparts.
Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020. The Kingdom is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic.