Challenging though most job markets may be right now, never forget that the UK’s massive manufacturing industry and its broad subsidiary sectors are always evolving – as February’s news amply demonstrates!
JLR’s road to net zero
JLR’s CEO has unveiled a new global strategy for the company. Thierry Bollore’s “Reimagine” plan, drawn up since he took over the role in July 2020, suggests restructures and job losses will be part of a challenging but rapid journey to electrification. Charged with transforming the fortunes of the company and its brands—especially the Jaguar marque—Bollore will oversee the latter brand becoming all-electric by 2025 – an astonishingly rapid evolution.
Fully-electric Land Rovers will launch by 2024, with all JLR models available in pure-electric form by the end of the decade. Around £2.5bn per year will be invested to develop connected services and facilitate electrification, with JLR aiming to be net carbon by 2039.
In other automotive news, we’re excited to hear the Israeli e-Mobility company is to establish its Engineering Centre at MIRA Technology Park, where it expects to accelerate plans to meet anticipated global demand for its REEcorner and Electric Vehicle (EV) platform technology.
UK Gigafactory #2?
The UK’s second Gigafactory could be built in Coventry if plans for a site next to the city’s airport come to fruition. Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport have formed a joint venture partnership to submit a planning application this year, and plan to raise £2bn for a battery Gigafactory. They are working with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers to secure investment in a scheme which could create thousands of jobs in the West Midlands, an automotive hub for the UK.
This dovetails with the Government’s specific ambition to secure a second Gigafactory in the UK, with £500m of funding available, which Coventry will bid for. The proposed site, or others like it, will be fundamentally important in the future of UK automotive manufacture, as Brexit means that by 2027, 55 per cent of an electric car’s value must be built in the UK or EU in order for the vehicle to remain exempt from import and export tariffs.
Manufacturing & Technology
£600m sustainable aviation fuel plant set to create hundreds of jobs
Essar Oil (UK) Limited (Essar) is joining forces with Fulcrum BioEnergy and Essar’s subsidiary company Stanlow Terminals to create a new facility which will convert non-recyclable household waste into sustainable aviation fuel for use by airlines operating at UK airports.
The bio-refinery will convert several hundred thousand tonnes of pre-processed waste into approximately 100 million litres of low carbon sustainable aviation fuel annually, instead of sending it to landfill or burners for incineration.
The project represents an investment of approximately £600m and will see Fulcrum, whose parent is based in California, United States, construct, own and operate the plant within Essar’s Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in the North West of England.
The pandemic and young people: career plans on hold and the rise of apprenticeships
A new survey has found that over 40% of people aged 16-24 are putting career or education plans on hold until the pandemic is over. Research commissioned by BAE Systems for National Apprenticeship Week found a fifth of young people are more confused about careers than they were before the pandemic, while the same number said the industry they had wanted to work in has been deeply impacted.
Engineering was viewed as the fifth-best industry for long term career opportunities, with healthcare and education more popular prospects against these criteria.
Quizzed about the most important factors when considering careers, nearly a third of respondents cited continuous learning and the ability to develop skills were important factors. Other popular factors were salary, stability, future-proofed jobs – and nearly a third wanted an opportunity to make a difference. Nearly two-thirds said they would consider an apprenticeship, with four in ten saying a key driver is the ability to gain experience in the working world.
Exec & Leaders
Matt Windle is new MD of Lotus Cars
Following the departure of Phil Popham as MD of Lotus, Matt Windle, formerly Executive Director of Engineering at the firm, has become the next incumbent. Mr Popham will remain with the firm until the end of March, though the handover process is underway.
In his role, Mr Windle will oversee the completion of the Evija electric hypercar and the all-new, yet to be named, Type 131 sports car, to be built from new factories at the revitalised Hethel UK headquarters. Lotus plans to announce further new leadership appointments for its Engineering department and consultancy in due course.
Honda and Red Bull: it’s not over yet.
Red Bull and AlphaTauri will continue to race Honda power units from next season through to the end of 2024 after reaching an agreement to run the Japanese technology despite the manufacturer opting to leave the championship at the end of this season. Honda had announced that it would quit F1 in order to divert more funding towards achieving carbon neutrality. But this rapidly led to talks to find a way for Red Bull to continue using the Japanese brand’s technology rather than returning to Renault, which would be obliged to supply power units under current rules.
A new company, Red Bull Powertrains Limited, will take on Honda F1 power unit technology from 2022, operated from Red Bull Racing’s F1 team base in Milton Keynes. It’s an intriguing development and a bold move. Watch this space.