Welcome to our roundup of the news that's grabbed our attention from across our specialist industries over the last month!
Lotus teases first-ever British electric hypercar
Lotus fans tend to be hardcore, so we reckon they’ll be getting pretty excited about now. We’re delighted to be working with the brand; it’s one that looks set to make a real splash over the next few years. For starters, the iconic British car maker has used the Shanghai Motor Show to reveal plans for a £1million+ electric Type 130 hypercar. The model will be pitched against Aston Martin and McLaren in the elite EV segment.
The full details of the car will be released at the London Motor Show later this year, with Lotus fans confident the firm’s backing from Chinese owner Geely puts it in a strong position for future growth, particularly as it means $2 billion of investment to 2025 and access to the Chinese market.
The Type 130 is expected to feature styling cues for the brand’s next range of sports cars, which look set to be part of what Lotus boss Phil Popham describes as a phase of brand-building that will take Lotus “back to where it was and where it could be.”
From track to road - PDQ.
How quickly can motorsport technology be adapted for road vehicle adoption today? Pretty darn quick. Part of the reason why we so enjoy working in this space is the astonishingly rapid cross-fertilisation we’re witnessing where, as we’ve noted in this space before, motorsport becomes a testing ground for numerous technologies before being deployed elsewhere.
Witness: the Schaeffler 4ePerformance all-electric concept vehicle, which goes from 0 to 125mph in under seven seconds, powered by four Formula E motors from the ABT Schaeffler FE01 Formula E racing car.
Professor Peter Gutzmer, Schaeffler’s CTO, puts it perfectly: “For Schaeffler, this vehicle is a test laboratory on wheels thanks to its free scaling options for the drive power…Schaeffler has contributed its technical expertise to Formula E from the very beginning (and) plays a pioneering role and is a partner for components and complete system solutions when it comes to applying electric mobility to volume production vehicles and putting these on the road.”
Manufacturing & Technology
Kusum Trikha – an engineering role model to celebrate.
We like to see stories of successful women in engineering: it’s the ongoing mission of the industry to become a popular career choice for girls, and the best way to make that happen is for it to become normal to see women doing well in the sector.
So how about the story of New Delhi-born Kusum Trikha, a mechanical engineer at WSP, the sustainable engineering specialist? In 2018 she made the Tech Women 100 list and in 2019 the finals of the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards and the Future List of Northern Power Women. An alumnus of Glasgow University, she is keen to champion “the good things that engineering gives to the world.”
Tellingly, when she arrived in the UK having begun her career in India, she was surprised how few women she saw in engineering here. We share her hope that more women will soon understand how rewarding engineering can be.
Executives & Leaders
Former Tesla engineer to lead Lucid Motors.
A former Tesla engineer has been appointed CEO at electric car start-up Lucid Motors. Peter Rawlinson had spent time at Tesla where he was chief engineer of the Model S, and will replace the retiring Sam Weng.
Lucid has plans to build electric sedans in Arizona next year, facilitated by a $1 billion+ investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund. Lucid’s first model, the Air Sedan, will give sportscar competitors in the EV space a run for their money: the model will cost in excess of $100,000, with a range of 400 miles and a 0-60mph acceleration of 2.5 seconds.
“Come quietly or there will be trouble!” Improved microchip brings Tesla Robotaxis a step closer.
How far off are we from a world of autonomous ride-hailing? Tesla chief Elon Musk has said he expects the firm to have self-driving "robotaxis" on US roads by 2020, thanks to improvements in the firm’s “full self-driving” microchip technology.
Tesla vehicles are not yet at the standard needed before a car can be fully autonomous, with a morass of legal and technological challenges to overcome before we see driverless cars on our roads, but this vision of the future becomes more of a reality with each passing year.
IMechE rising stars will inspire graduates
We were particularly taken with this series of profiles of “some of the best and brightest” young engineers from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, which the site describes as “shaping the future of the profession and the world.”
Featured are Lydia Amarquaye a Senior Product Development engineer and chair of IMechE Young Members Board; Younes Chahid, an Additive Manufacturing PhD researcher; Ben Vallely, a Principal Consultant; Samuel Vennin, a Biomechanical Engineer research fellow and Siddartha Khastgir, a Principal Engineer and research lead for the verification and validation of connected and autonomous vehicles.
These are exactly the kind of profiles that will help inspire new generations to investigate engineering. And there are more parts to this series to read, which means more inspiring people to discover.