Rapid growth, speed, the inexorable march of expanding sectors: our selection of news seems appropriate for a month that always seems to be over before it has really begun. Whether it’s Mercedes' 1000km EV jaunt, a huge rise in BEV sales or good news for the UK Space sector, it's all really positive stuff as we look back over the news that grabbed our attention in April.
Mercedes EV breaks 1,000 km range barrier to outdo Tesla
A Mercedes EQXX prototype electric car has driven more than 1,000 kilometres from Germany to Cassis (a Mediterranean fishing port on the French Riviera) on a single charge— and still had 15% charge left upon arrival.
The EQXX is hailed by the brand’s CEO Ola Kallenius as “the most efficient Mercedes ever built,” with its lightweight chassis and aerodynamic profile allowing it to complete the trip with a battery half the size of Mercedes' EQS, the brand’s flagship electric car, which has a driving range of up to 350 miles.
Mercedes intends to spend 60 billion euros through 2026 to fend off Tesla and win back the title of the world's best-selling luxury-car maker from rival BMW Group. Despite years of criticism for being late to adopt electric cars, the brand’s goal is to sell only EVs where possible by the end of this decade and set up eight battery factories with partners.
Explosion of BEV and hybrid sales
In other automotive news, SMMT figures reveal that more than a third of new cars sold in the UK are now battery electric (BEV) or hybrid. Over 39,000 zero emission cars left dealerships last month, more than during the whole of 2019—an increase of 78.7% on the same month last year, according to statistics released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on April 5th.
The BEV market share reached 16.1% while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) fell slightly to 6.6% and hybrids (HEVs) grew to 11.4%, meaning 34.1% of all vehicles sold were electrified.
Ross Brawn pushing for more sprint races
One of the big talking points at the Formula 1 Commission meeting in London this week was the possible expansion of the new sprint format for 2023. Original plans for an increase from three to six sprints this year have been curtailed by financial concerns, but the 2022 Imola sprint was well-received and will be followed by sprints in Austria and Brazil.
Senior F1 official Ross Brawn believes the sprint format is key to his sport reaching new fans and remaining relevant, saying that “...bite-sized chunks of F1 would be popular (on) social media, with streaming services, YouTube compilations, all the rest of it...” and that his concern is that “F1 gets to be an old white man's sport.”
The sprint format gives F1 sponsors and audiences a full weekend of racing to engage in , creating more commercial and promotional opportunities and more ways for drivers and teams to gain points across the season.
Manufacturing & Technologies
Airbus secures ‘largest single order ever placed’
Global aircraft operating lessor BOC Aviation has signed an order for 80 A320neo family aircraft from Airbus, which takes BOC Aviation’s total direct orders with the firm to 453 aircraft and sees a continuation of a partnership more than 26 years old.
At the end of March 2022 the A320neo Family had totalled more than 7,900 orders from around 130 customers. Since its Entry into Service six years ago, Airbus has delivered over 2,100 A320neo Family aircraft contributing to 15 million tons of CO2 saving.
UK space sector sees rapid growth despite Covid-19 pandemic
Despite disruption from the pandemic, UK employment in the space sector grew by 3,000 jobs in 2020. The UK Space Agency report, “The Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2021” shows there were 46,995 jobs in the sector in 2020, an increase of 6.7% on the previous year. The report showed a slight drop in total income for the sector, though it fared much better than the wider UK economy for the same period.
The highest real-term growth occurred in space manufacturing (including satellites, spacecraft, launch vehicles and scientific instruments), which increased by £23m to £3.27bn, while investment in R&D grew by 19% to £836m.
Confidence in the sector is high, with 79% of organisations predicting a rise in income over the next three years and 74% expecting a rise in employment.
Executives & Leaders
Former VW engineering boss joins Jaguar Land Rover.
Thomas Muller has replaced Nick Rogers as JLR’s engineering chief. Mr Muller has extensive experience of research and development into chassis, advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous technology, and will take responsibility for technical development, hardware and software of all new Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.
JLR said Müller will play a key role in pushing forward its Reimagine strategy, through which it aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its products, operations and supply chain by 2039.
Degree grade matters more than university reputation, report finds
A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that graduates in England with first-class or upper second class (2.1) honours degrees had higher average earnings by the age of 30 than those who finished with lower second-class (2.2) awards, regardless of institution – meaning that degree class was often more important than institutional reputation.
Ben Waltmann, senior research economist at IFS and a co-author of the report, said prospective students, parents and policymakers should take note of the findings, and be “more relaxed” about which institutions they aim to study at. “The findings imply that degree classification may matter as much as university attended for later-life earnings,” he said.