Welcome to our roundup of the news that's grabbed our attention from across our specialist industries over the last month!
Manufacturing and Tech
HS2 welcomed by iMechE
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has welcomed the government’s backing of HS2, which will link London to Birmingham and eventually Manchester and Leeds, saying it will result in improvements to North-South and East-West flows in the North of England and lead to economic growth and reduced pollution due to a modal shift away from road and air for passengers and freight.
Despite controversies over the plan, its supporters say it will rebalance the UK’s economy and that the construction of the infrastructure alone will create thousands of jobs. Latest estimates suggest stage one of HS2 will be completed between 2028 and 2031, with stage two likely to be ready between 2035 and 2040.
2035: endgame for traditional automotive combustion
The Government has announced that it will pull forward the ban on new internal combustion engines to 2035 after experts advised the previous deadline of 2040 would be too late if the UK is to achieve its target of emitting almost zero carbon by 2050.
The ban on diesel and gasoline vehicles will help drive innovation in our industries: of the 300 million-plus passenger cars in circulation in Europe, about 99% are powered by diesel or petrol, with electric or plug-in hybrid cars comprising about 2.5% of new passenger vehicle sales in Europe in 2018.
ECTR (Electric Touring Car Racing Series) is go – and it’s radical.
Announced in 2018, the ECTR series has been officially launched in Paris by Eurosport Events, with its first promotional season this year. The new electric series will be known as Pure ECTR, and will take the form of a radical rallycross-style race format, with a series of knockout heats culminating in a final.
Its first competition is to be a time trial at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, followed by race meetings in Austria, Denmark, South Korea, China and the USA. Head of Eurosport Events Francois Ribeiro says the series is about racing rather than electric mobility, adding that “Motorsport has to bring the emotion into e-mobility…pure ETCR is not about boring e-mobility but about pure battles, pure racing.”
MOVE 2020 highlights!
MOVE, one of the world’s most important mobility events, was held at London Excel on 11-12th February this year. Showcasing innovations from established and new companies and featuring the latest mobility-related technology, it featured nearly 900 speakers and industry influencers with 5,000 guests. Trends under discussion included sustainability, autonomous driving and alternative fuels. Just a few of many possible highlights from Auto Futures (source below) include:
Automotive design legend Gordon Murray has collaborated with Delta Motorsport and itMoves on the partly government-funded MOTIV autonomous vehicle programme, unveiled at MOVE 2020. Design decisions for the vehicle have been driven by its positioning as a mobility-as-a-service or last-mile delivery vehicle and a sub 450kg weight target, whilst also delivering full vehicle crash safety standards for its weight classification.
The vehicle is agnostic to autonomous stack and sensor suites, so the next step for Gordon Murray Design is to identify autonomy and mobility-as-a-service partners who can help take the car into pilot production over the next 12 months.
Meanwhile at MOVE 2020, Oxbotica Founder Paul Newman shared some compelling thoughts with Auto Future on the subject of intelligent mobility. Clearly passionate in his belief that autonomy is going to change how people and goods move forever, he compares the present-day stage in autonomous development to computing in the 1970s.
“The weightlessness of software allows something extraordinary to be done - software’s going to turn transport inside out,” he says. Newman compares the sharing and learning capacities of software favourably to the individual driver who must gain their driving skills and knowledge single-handedly. “This ability for vehicles to share (knowledge) is at the centre point of what drives this technology forward,” he says.
MOVE 2020 also played host to conversations about the need for the transport industry to be more inclusive if it is to continue to attract a new workforce. With over 500 members, Women in Transport is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to support the development of women in the industry. CEO Sonya Byers says there is still worn to do to break down barriers to women working in the sector.
“Five years ago were at 22% (women in the transport industry in the UK) and now we’re at 20%,” she says, “…I am a firm believer there is a career for everybody in transport and there’s so much variety in it but maybe people don’t know what the careers and opportunities are…there’s a willingness to change…but there’s still a lot of gender stereotyping and we still have lot of work to do to break down those perceptions and those barriers.”
Bill Weihl: let’s give students and employees a “Climate Voice” that holds employers to account.
Veteran corporate sustainability expert and former Google “energy czar” Bill Weihl has launched San Francisco-based ClimateVoice, an initiative which will urge companies to champion sustainable climate policies and mobilise the voice of students and “rank-and-file” employees in companies everywhere.
Launched at ClimateCAP conference in Virginia, ClimateVoice aims to activate college students and employees to persuade employers to embrace climate-change policies and initiatives.
Weihl is borrowing from the playbook of the LGBTQ movement which saw students and employees pressing companies to boycott US states with laws that discriminated against anyone based on their sexual preferences. Weihl is on record as understanding that inaction by businesses in the LGBTQ movement made them an unpopular choice as potential employers amongst students. In this way, Weihl is harnessing the power of activism to flip the power relationship between hirers and candidates in support of a cause.
Stroll to become Aston Martin Executive Chairman
Aston Martin has secured a £500 million rescue package from a consortium of investors including business mogul Lawrence Stroll, who will become Executive Chairman of the renowned luxury brand. Despite optimism at the time of its IPO in 2018, the luxury car manufacturer has suffered from poor sales, profit warnings and ever-reducing financial reserves, resulting in a 75% loss of its value.
Aston Martin has invested its hopes in its new SUV, the DBX, which it hopes will broaden its appeal outside of “traditional” buyers. It has also put on hold its plans for an electric model. Stroll’s approach to growing brands has led to speculation that Aston Martin could become a wider luxury brand under his patronage, with AML CEO Andy Palmer saying he believes “the dialogue will change from automotive to luxury.”