Welcome to our roundup of the news that's grabbed our attention from across our specialist industries over the last month!
Amazon’s whopping Rivian order
Amazon invested heavily into US electric van start-up Rivian in February, and now it’s ordered 100,000 electric vans from the company as part of its climate protection plan. The e-commerce giant’s plan includes committing to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and being CO2-neutral by 2040. Amazon intends that the first Rivian vehicles will be in use by 2021, with 10,000 in use by 2022, and all 100,000 vans in use by 2030. The announcement comes after Amazon’s Employees for Climate Justice staged a walk-out, urging senior managers to do more to combat climate change.
Land Rover-inspired Ineos 4 x 4 to be built in Bridgend
Closer to home Ineos Automotive has chosen Bridgend for the production of its new 4x4 vehicle. It will initially create 200 jobs, rising to 500 people and producing up to 25,000 cars a year at peak production. The brand has received funding from the government as part of a competition to develop new technologies, and will invest £600m in the new car - the Grenadier - which is inspired by the Land Rover Defender.
The vehicle body and chassis will be provided by German company MBTech, while BMW will supply the engines. Ineos Group Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe described the decision to build in the UK as an expression of confidence in British manufacturing.
Formula 1 design guru co-founds electric off-road team for new 2021 racing series.
Adrian Newey, chief technical officer at Red Bull, is to move into the off-road arena as he enters the Extreme E electric racing series. He will be the lead visionary of Veloce Racing, a team he co-founded with two-time Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
Veloce is currently best-known for its Esports team, but as of 2021 it will compete in an all-new series – Extreme E races, which will be held in remote locations such as the Arctic and Sahara, highlighting environmental issues in each area.
Extreme E is described as “a competitive platform for accelerating the development of electric vehicles, to help create a low-carbon future powered by renewable energy.”
Manufacturing & Technology
Make UK/BDO analysis issues stark warnings against no-deal.
The Annual Make UK/BDO Regional Manufacturing Outlook has been published, with an analysis of areas most at risk from a “no-deal” Brexit. Wales, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber have high exposure to trade with the EU, meaning the risk of “no deal” could be felt disproportionately in these areas – exacerbated by the fact that some of these areas are already among our most economically straitened.
Meanwhile London and the South East are poised to become the UK’s biggest manufacturing region, overtaking Britain’s traditional industrial heartlands. As an emerging industrial powerhouse, L & SE is already the second largest manufacturing region, worth £28.1bn annually. Its exposure to the electronics sector means it benefits from increasing global trends towards investment in 4IR related technologies, including AI and robotics.
Warning against the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, Make UK Chief Executive Stephen Phipson said, “Although Brexit stockpiling put manufacturing on steroids for a little while, the industry has since gone almost cold turkey and the overall picture over the last year now shows Brexit, global trade wars and the economic downturn in major markets are menacing UK manufacturers.”
Cenex 2019: UK has a big opportunity in disruptive low carbon vehicle technology.
This year’s Cenex Low Carbon Event, which was attended by our very own Paul Frisby, showed that despite the troubles currently afflicting our automotive industry, low carbon, connectivity and autonomy-related technology is thriving on these shores.
Amongst the many talks and technologies on show, the Minister of State for the Future of Transport discussed how his work is guided by the “three Ds” of disconnection, decarbonisation and digitalisation. If the first of these sounds counterintuitive, the “disconnection” he refers to is about tackling the dangers of disconnection within the transport system, and between people and politics.
Meanwhile, Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT, provided an overview of the automotive industry’s progress in delivering the “Road to Zero”, remaining upbeat about the UK’s ability to grasp the opportunities of future technology, having “bet the farm” on electrification.
Seminars were used to host debate and to disseminate results from research and projects. A noteworthy session from research funded by the Energy Technologies Institute aimed to shed light on consumers’ attitudes towards electric vehicles. It found that 50% of research participants not previously interested in Electric Vehicles would consider adopting one if it had a range of 200 miles, with 90% likely to be interested if the range increased to 300 miles. More people were likely to buy an EV as a second car.
The implications are that it is not just range that puts consumers off buying EVs, since pure EVs account for less than 1% of new car sales. A lack of infrastructure, model price and charging costs must all be high on the agenda if electric vehicles are to become truly mainstream.
Executives & Leaders
Former Man Utd executive becomes CEO of Formula E.
Jamie Reigle has been announced as the new CEO of Formula E, as founder Alejandro Agag becomes Chairman. Mr Reigle’s experience includes executive roles growing Manchester United’s brand across new territories and time spent with the LA Rams in the NFL, where he was Executive Vice-President of Business Operations.
At Manchester United he was a member of the Board of Directors, overseeing global commercial activity, launching Asia Pacific operations and leading the company’s IPO on the NYSE.
Mr Reigle and Mr Agag will work together to help Formula E reach its full potential over the coming seasons, as its calendar and grid become busier.
Sarah Anderson shines light on Engineering
We love this article about engineering careers in The Engineer, where STEM ambassador Sarah Anderson discusses the variety of options available to would-be engineers and the first steps they should be taking. Engineering careers offer an average starting salary of over £26K, and with a shortage of engineers in the UK, it’s a great time to be one.
As you’d expect from a vastly diverse industry, there are many disciplines on offer, to fit anyone interested in science, technology, construction or manufacturing.
With a huge range of employers of differing levels of specialisation and size, engineering also offers careers to suit any specific ambition. We particularly enjoyed the author’s concise synopsis of differing engineer careers – from Electrical and Mechanical to Civil, Software and Environmental – and the comprehensive resources on offer in this piece, from essential qualifications to CV advice and a rundown of key employers.
This is a highly recommend read for anyone considering a career in the engineering sector. Read more.