We are continually being told that electric vehicles are the future – indeed, petrol and diesel-engined vehicles are scheduled to be phased out in the UK market; the original deadline was 2040, but this was brought forward to 2035, and there is talk of possibly introducing the ban in 2030. This last date is regarded by many as unachievable – when the deadline was brought forward to 2035, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, described the situation as “extremely concerning” and accused the Government of “moving the goalposts.”
The coronavirus outbreak has affected many industries, but the automotive industry is among the hardest hit. After carmakers stopped production and dealerships closed showrooms amid Covid-19 lockdown, global car sales slumped worse than ever before. However, the luxury car market was generally less affected by the financial downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to data presented by StockApps.com, the market capitalisation of the world’s most valuable car company, Tesla, hit over $460bn this week, almost seven times more than Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin combined.
Following the news that Tesla’s market capitalisation now exceeds that of Toyota, making it the most valued carmaker in the world, David Leggett, automotive Analyst at GlobalData, says: “The automotive sector is among the most severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and facing decimated markets this year. GlobalData’s base COVID-19 light vehicle sales scenario forecasts a fall of 17.8 per cent on 2019 to 73.9 million, a greater hit to the market than in the 2007/8 financial crisis. Against this background, the share prices of many automotive companies and suppliers have been hit.”
Britishvolt has shortlisted Bro Tathan in South Wales and one other site for the UK’s first 30 plus GWh Gigafactory. Britishvolt eliminated 40 other proposals in the process. When the project is finalised, the company says the initial wave of £1.2 billion of investment into the site will eventually lead to around 3,500 jobs.
The UK government is searching for 4 million square feet of industrial space to house an electric vehicle Gigafactory. According to Property Week, the Department for International Trade (DIT) has made the request for “an electric vehicle research, development and manufacturing plant in the UK”. In addition, the 650-acre Gravity site in Somerset has been specifically linked as prospective location for the apparent Gigafactory project. And what’s more Property Week has linked Tesla to the search for the site. Taken together, the scale of the project, DIT’s confirmation that it is for vehicle research, development and manufacturing, and the suggestion that it is all for Tesla mean the project is a prospective Gigafactory.
Dismal new car registration figures in April conceal a milestone for the UK motoring public – for the first time ever, an all-electric model topped the passenger vehicle sales charts. But when it comes to overall new registrations, top of the heap during the month was a van.
The short story is that internal OE demand is likely to be much harder hit than external exports. According to NBC, China could suffer the loss of 1 million vehicles worth of production due to the suspension of production for at least an extra week in the so-called “motor city” of Wuhan, which is located at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak and has a population of 11 million people.
Following the news that American electric truck startup Rivian Automotive (Rivian) has raised US$1.3bn in new funding; Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the start-up’s journey: “In an extremely capital intensive industry such as automotive manufacturing, companies are required to raise billions of dollars and Rivian so far has been successful in gaining traction among investors. The new funding was led by asset management firm T. Rowe Price with Amazon, Ford Motor Co and BlackRock also participating. This marks the fourth funding for Rivian in 2019 and earlier it has already raised more than US$1.5bn from Ford, Amazon and Cox Automotive.
During the last week Elon Musk and Tesla have been busily promoting their latest innovation – the Cyber Truck. The combination of its angular design and hugely powerful drivetrain will certainly turn heads. And, if the initial orders are anything to go by, it is set to be very disruptive in the growing SUV/pickup sector. Indeed, during the first 72 hours after the Cyber Truck’s launch 300,000 vehicles were pre-ordered – enough to put the Cyber Truck in the top 10 for annual US sales.
While the UK new car manufacturing business has taken something of a battering in recent months, The Sunday Times reports that government ministers are considering offering state support for a huge shared electric vehicle battery “giga factory” modelled on Tesla’s enormous US battery manufacturing plant in the Nevada desert. That plant, which is known as Gigafactory 1, is set to have the biggest factory footprint in the world and already employees 3000 people. The UK project has so far been valued at around £1.7 billion.
Vredestein’s Ultrac Vorti ultra-high performance tyres have been specified for a unique project: a Tesla Model S-based Shooting Brake commissioned by a Dutch collector, designed by award-winning Niels van Roij Design and built by renowned Dutch coach-builder RemetzCar.
With recent legislation aiming to banish non-electric vehicles from both showrooms and city centres (starting with Oxford, which wants them gone by 2020) car manufacturers are preparing for electric power to become the mainstream. Electric propulsion has emerged by consensus as the future of driving, rather than other alternative technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells.
Tesla has unveiled its electric Semi truck which has a range of 500 miles with a full 36.3-tonne load. It does 0-60 mph in 20 seconds with a full load, a task that takes a diesel truck about a minute. Without a trailer, the Tesla Semi achieves 0-60 mph in five seconds, compared to 15 seconds in a comparable diesel truck.
Tesla is set to launch its first autonomous electric lorry next month as the company attempts to break into the commercial vehicle market.
The Tesla Semi truck is scheduled to be unveiled on October 26 and is expected to have a working range of 200 to 300 miles, making it more suitable for inner-city transport than long-distance motorway haulage.