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Industry news roundup - March 2022

G&H News Mar
​Every reader will have their favourite story in our regular news roundups, but who can fail to love the creation of a whole new category of vehicle? Lunaz has obliged with its new UEV which, when you read the story, seems a fantastic solution to a very obvious problem. Elsewhere this month there’s the usual hubbub and excitement, from a potential new F1 team (yes please) to new moves at Polestar and much more!


Aston Martin and Britishvolt in new battery partnership

Luxury UK automotive brand Aston Martin has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Britishvolt (considered the UK’s foremost investor in lithium-ion battery tech) to design, develop and industrialise new battery packs. The company’s announcement follows last year’s major recruitment drive in which it hired 176 engineers, including specialists in electrified platforms.

Aston Martin’s first EV is due in 2025, with the brand stating that it is aiming for "new standards of repeatable on track performance, charging time and range.” With a fully-electrified line up slated for 2030, every new Aston product from 2026 will have an electrified option.


Lunaz unveils first upcycled industrial vehicle

Lunaz says it has created a new classification of electric vehicle as it unveils its first upcycled industrial electric vehicle (UEV). A study commissioned by Lunaz has revealed the company could save more than 80% of embedded carbon over a total lifetime by upcycling instead of replacing current vehicles with new electric equivalents.

The company will make the first industrial vehicle deliveries in Q4 2023 and has already signed major fleet electrification agreements with councils for the conversion of refuse truck fleets to clean-air powertrains.



Could Michael Andretti join F1 by 2024?

U.S. motor racing entrepreneur Michael Andretti wants to launch a new F1 team, Andretti Global, in time to race in 2024. Changes to F1’s rules which help teams to compete more cost-effectively, and the sport’s expansion in the USA, stand in his favour.

One critical factor in his team’s mooted journey to the F1 grid will be Andretti’s ability to offset the impact on each team’s percentage share of the championship revenue. He is said to be willing to pay a $200 million anti-dilution fee to be shared among the existing teams to help temporarily cover the losses they would incur if another team took a slice of the prize money.

Nonetheless, the franchise model created under Liberty Media means his team would soon have to create additional and lasting value to the grid beyond any initial fee. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown thinks Andretti Global would boost the championship’s total revenue, and Andretti has said he intends to use a U.S. driver. It seems fair to assume his team’s presence in F1 would be positive for the North American market.


Manufacturing & Technologies

Cummins to build new powertrain test facility

Cummins Inc. is to open a new Powertrain Test Facility at its Darlington site in the UK to help accelerate the move towards cleaner, next generation power technologies focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

Ground preparation for the facility is underway, with the first phase of the £14 million investment expected to open for operations by May 2023. The facility will be fuel-agnostic and will enable Cummins to develop and test a wider range of power technologies, including the latest universal engine platforms with variants able to operate on green hydrogen, renewable natural gas, or sustainable diesel. Installation and testing capability will also extend to hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric powertrains.


Future Tech

UK government reveals almost £40 billion R&D budget.

The UK government has revealed plans for record R&D spending and investment, with its budget for 2022-2025 topping out at £39.8 billion. The funding will be allocated across the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s partner organisations.

R&D spending will increase by £5bn to £20bn per annum by 2024-2025, with the spend helping to achieve ambitions set out in the government’s Innovation Strategy, and supporting a commitment that total R&D spend reaches 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.

Investments will contribute to the new cross-government approach on research and development, delivering strategic advantage in science and technology, working alongside industry to leverage private investment and deliver prosperity, security and resilience.


Executives & Leaders

Polestar expands Supervisory Board.

Polestar has announced that it will expand its Supervisory Board before its planned listing on the US stock exchange Nasdaq in the second half of this year. CEO Thomas Ingenlath will become an Executive Director on the Supervisory Board while continuing to perform his role as Chairman of the Board.

Chairman of the Supervisory board Håkan Samuelsson will hand over his leadership role at Volvo Cars to designated successor Jim Rowan on 21 March, and former Continental and Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann is also to join. A number of other appointments reflect Polestar’s stated ambition to expand the board with competencies “in the electric vehicle sector and in the international capital markets, and create a first-class structure in terms of international corporate governance”.



Formula Student competition moves towards EVs and autonomy

The famous Formula Student competition has always been a barometer of the winder automotive industry, and sure enough it is changing with the times as ever. Half the teams this year are running electric powertrains and 16 groups are joining the FS-AI category in which they develop and runs systems on autonomous cars.

The changing technological environment is evident in every stage of the competition, with what happens on track merely the end result of a sea change. Each team now has free CarMaker licences. CarMaker is a virtual prototyping tool that allows teams to simulate testing of systems throughout the design and development stage, and it’s helping students more easily transition from petrol to EV or autonomous vehicles.

This piece is a fascinating deep dive into the competition’s changing face: