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.


SoftBank to invest $40bn for new Indonesia capital

The new capital is to be built on the island of Borneo, where the Kutai National Park is known for its rainforests and its population of orangutans and other primates. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2020

SoftBank to invest $40bn for new Indonesia capital

  • Son joins Abu Dhabi crown prince and former British PM in steering committee for city

JAKARTA: Japan’s SoftBank is offering to invest $30 billion to $40 billion in the development of a new Indonesian capital, an official said Friday.

The billionaire founder and chief executive of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, hinted at partnering with the Indonesian government to fund the project when he met President Joko Widodo last week in the capital, Jakarta.
Son and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been included in the steering committee to be led by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to oversee the construction of the new capital city on the island of Borneo.
Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told a news briefing that SoftBank was offering $30 billion to $40 billion, though it was not immediately clear what project the Japanese conglomerate would invest in specifically.
“We have not yet decided how they would invest, it could be for education, a research center or hospital development,” Pandjaitan said. He said he will meet Son in Davos and Tokyo later this month to finalize the plan.
After meeting Widodo last week, Son told reporters that he was interested in supporting “a new smart city, the newest technology, a clean city and a lot of artificial intelligence.”
Widodo announced last August that Indonesia’s capital will move from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to a site in the sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo, known for rainforests and orangutans.

BACKGROUND

The capital’s relocation to a 256,000-hectare (632,580-acre) site almost four times the size of Jakarta will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($34 billion). The government is set to begin the construction later this year.

The capital’s relocation to a 256,000-hectare (632,580-acre) site almost four times the size of Jakarta will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($34 billion). The government is set to begin the construction later this year.
Investors from Asia, the Middle East, the US and China have shown interest in developing the city, Pandjaitan said.
Jakarta, with 30 million people including those in the greater metropolitan area, is prone to earthquakes and flooding, and is rapidly sinking due to the uncontrolled extraction of ground water.
Monsoon rains and rising rivers early this month left more than 60 people dead and 500,000 displaced.
Mineral-rich East Kalimantan was once almost completely covered by rainforests before illegal logging removed much of its original growth. It is home to only 3.5 million people and is surrounded by Kutai National Park, known for orangutans and other primates and mammals.
Indonesia is an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands, but currently 54 percent of the country’s nearly 270 million people live on Java, the country’s most densely populated island where Jakarta is located.