May saw some significant announcements in the automotive industry, especially concerning the drive to sustainability. Though hardly surprising to anyone with knowledge of the sector, the sheer scale and speed of alternative propulsion and its adoption in a variety of contexts, from fleet to mobility to construction, is staggering. Here’s the best of May’s news as we saw it.
Gordon Murray: the journey continues
As a proud supplier to The Gordon Murray Group we were delighted to learn the brand will invest £300m over the next five years as part of an ambitious plan for global success.
Founder Professor Gordon Murray has revealed a strategic roadmap based on long-term growth through research and development, the introduction of a new division, investment in Gordon Murray Design, hiring talent and building upon the competencies and portfolio of Gordon Murray Automotive.
The brand will sharpen its focus on developing electric vehicles, with Gordon Murray Design already beginning to create a revolutionary, lightweight, ultra-efficient electric vehicle architecture for future urban passenger vehicles and delivery vans.
A new Gordon Murray Electronic business unit is being formed by newly-appointed CEO Richie Sibal, to support the development of advanced electrified powertrains for global automotive manufacturers and technology companies.
Arrival’s Uber: arriving soon.
Arrival has partnered with Uber to create "an affordable, purpose-built electric vehicle for ride-hailing drivers.”
Uber says the car will prioritise driver comfort, safety and convenience, with a final design concept to be revealed at the end of this year. The car is slated to enter production in the summer of 2023 and is to be designed in collaboration with drivers.
The announcement of the project follows Uber's recent pledge to operate an all-electric fleet in London by 2025, with ride-hailing customers already able to select an electric car for their journey at no extra cost, and over 3.5 million Uber journeys in London fulfilled by electric vehicles.
Key appointments at Red Bull Powertrains
Red Bull Powertrains is to make significant appointments in its drive to become a major competitive force and bring every element of its Formula One race unit in-house. The team is working towards developing championship-winning power units that will meet the planned 2025 F1 regulations, and be used by Red Bull and its sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri from 2022. Expansions to the leadership team are seen by the brand as critical to this.
With Ben Hodgkinson already announced as Technical Director, Red Bull Powertrains will add other senior technical staff to ensure its power unit is fully integrated with chassis design and development, including a new Head of Mechanical Development yet to be announced.
Volta Trucks: the new road to zero
We’re delighted to partner with game-changing brand Volta Trucks, so we welcome the news that the company has laid out its Road-to-Zero Emissions strategy, with a commercial, product and manufacturing road map to 2025. Already the leading fully-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, it will expand its product portfolio by adding a further three vehicles to the 16-tonne Volta Zero, adding variants in the 7.5-tone, 12-tonne and 19-tonne categories. It’s an exciting growth period for a company who mission is to decarbonise the logistics industry, resulting in cleaner air and safer streets.
With safety a key component of Volta Trucks’ DNA, the vehicles will not only dramatically reduce air pollution. Driver safety has also been a foundation of its vehicle design and without the compromises necessitated by a large combustion engine, the vehicle’s designers have been able to allow drivers 220-degree visibility, minimising blind spots. With the first Volta Zeros expected to operate in late 2021, forthcoming legislation changes and transforming sustainability agendas have helped drive massive demand for the brand, which now expects to sell over 27,000 vehicles per year by 2025.
For opportunities at Volta Trucks please see our partners page.
Manufacturing & Technology
JCB develops construction’s first hydrogen-fuelled excavator
JCB has developed the construction industry’s first hydrogen-powered excavator as it continues to lead the sector on zero and low carbon technologies. A hydrogen fuel cell powers the 20-tonne 220X excavator, which has undergone testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds over the last year.
The prototype vehicle is powered by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to create energy to drive electric motors. The only exhaust emission is water. In 2020 JCB went into production with the construction industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. It has now extended the technology to a forklift vehicle and is leading the way on clean diesel technology to meet Stage V EU emissions regulations, having almost eradicated the most harmful emissions from its latest range of diesel engines.
Exec & Leaders
Ola Electric ramps up for Indian markets
Ola Electric is stepping up its efforts to develop an electric car for the Indian market. In addition to building a global design centre in Bengaluru for its passenger vehicle business, the mobility start-up has selected Wayne Burgess, a Jaguar veteran, to head its design unit for electric cars, while the company is also establishing a design studio in London.
Mr Burgess will spend time in the firm’s London design studios and Bengaluru as he helps bring global appeal and design aesthetic to the firm’s electric vehicles. Designers from Tata have also joined the firm, as it sets out to fundamentally change the form factors of its cars.
The pandemic’s poll on graduate opportunities
Research by job site Indeed has shown that graduates are set to face a challenging labour market despite the UK’s improving economy. Vacancies for university leavers have fallen by 24 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels and 13 per cent compared to 2020. Opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience have also fallen: postings for paid internships have fallen by 41 per cent compared to 2019, and remain a third below last year’s figures.
Job postings in general are now only 4 per cent down on pre-pandemic hiring, but companies appear to have scaled back graduate hiring, either due to fears about hiring less experienced people to work remotely, or the cost of developing potential into fully-fledged talent.
Indeed’s findings also show that technology and sales jobs offer the best earnings potential for graduate hires, with sales consultants and software developers able to earn over £27,000 a year, while .net developers and structural engineers can earn over £26,000.
With skills shortages returning to some areas of technical engineering, maybe we need to be more open to graduate hires.