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Industry news roundup - July 2018

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At the end of each month on our website we’ll feature a roundup of the news that’s grabbed our attention from across our industry. We might not cover all of our sectors every month, but watch this space!

Automotive

Road to Zero Strategy leaves the door open for hybrid vehicles.

The government plans to leave plenty of room in the market for hybrid car development, having confirmed that hybrid cars and vans will be exempt from its 2040 ban on petrol and diesel cars sales.

The Conservatives’ new Road to Zero Strategy allows for the sale of electrified, ultra-low-emissions vehicles (ULEVS), which (currently) are defined as cars emitting less than 75g/km of CO2. Most of these are plug-in hybrids. The party intends that ULEVS will account for at least 50% and ideally 70% of new car sales by 2030.

The Government is cautious about which technologies will replace combustion-powered vehicles and has stated that the Road to Zero Strategy will be technology-neutral. This comes partly out of a recognition that it is industry and consumers who should lead progress, rather than prescriptive measures that could hamper innovation.

It is hoped that the UK’s investment into sustainable car technology will position the UK as a Global leader in an industry that could be worth £7.6 trillion per year by 2050.

Future Tech

Machines could mean net jobs gain, says report - but not everywhere.

For years we’ve been concerned that the machines are coming for us, or at least our jobs. But despite the rise of automation in manufacturing, it seems Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics could generate more jobs than will be lost to technology. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that AI could create 7.2 million jobs in healthcare, science and education by 2017, offsetting the 7 million it will displace through automation in manufacturing and other sectors.

The firm estimates that 20% of existing jobs will be automated over the next 20 years, with all sectors feeling an impact. AI, robotics, drones and driverless vehicles in particular will replace human workers in some sectors while creating jobs in others. AI technologies could give a massive boost to healthcare and social work, increasing jobs in the sector by a fifth from their current numbers, while professional services and education will also experience a net gain in jobs.

Despite this good news, it’s likely that driverless vehicles and factory automation will negatively impact jobs in manufacturing and transportation & storage, with the former sector set to lose a quarter of its jobs by 2037 and the latter by 22%.

Hyperloop goes hyper-fast

Regulars to this blog will note that we like to keep an eye on developments within Hyperloop, so we were delighted to see that a competition to drive developments in the technology has resulted in a new speed record, set by a pod designed by engineering students from Munich.

The speed competition is run by the SpaceX aerospace company, with the aim of seeing continuous improvement in the technologies that may eventually be used within the transport system.

The winning team, from the Technical University of Munich, beat its own record set last year, thrashing its rivals to hit speeds of 284 mph on a 1.2km track.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and one of the key figures behind the Hyperloop technology, has described it as a “fifth mode of transportation” that could change the way we work and travel. The most impressive scenario he has painted thus far for the technology is his famed dream that it could transport travellers from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Graduate

Engineers earn more in Chemical/pharma/medical

According to a salary survey by The Engineer Magazine, graduate and junior engineers are earning an average salary of £30,557 in 2018, with senior engineers earning around £47K-£48K and directors over £70K. The highest earners were engineers in the chemical, pharmaceuticals and medical industry who outstrip their counterparts in telecoms, electronics and utilities by around £10,000.

Routes into the industry remain broadly consistent with 2017, with half of engineers in the survey possessing a degree and nearly 40% entering through an apprenticeship. Notably, the percentage of apprenticeship routes into the industry rises with age, with over 50% of those in their fifties entering the sector in this way.

Exec & Leaders

Lotus signals intent by hiring Aston Martin executive for new role.

Lotus has set out its stall by appointing a former Aston Martin executive to a new role for the company – Commercial Director – as it continues with its growth plans under China’s Geely Holding Group. The brand has hired Aston Martin’s former global marketing director Marcus Blake, who will be responsible for sales, aftersales and marketing.

Lotus plans to increase sales from 1,600 last year to more than 10,000 annually, and has announced that it will launch its first SUV in the near future.

Motorsport

Red Bull chief impressed with Honda’s desire and ambition in Formula 1.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner has voiced his pleasure at the deal between his racing team and new partner Honda, who supply engines for the team and its stablemate, Toro Rosso. Horner has stated that the “full focus” of Honda, combined with its resource, facilities and investment into F1, made the decision to switch from Renault a straightforward one.

Manufacturing and Technology

Major UK investment will help green aviation to take flight.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced the UK government will partner with industry to invest £343 million into research and development for cleaner, greener hybrid aircraft. It is hoped the investment will help to maintain the UK as a leader in civil aviation as the sector readies itself for its biggest technological leap forward since the 1970s.  

The investment includes £225 million for 18 new research and technology projects that are key to getting green aviation off the ground.