Continuing growth at Lotus, the expanding motorsport portfolio of McLaren Racing, the UK's first Green Hydrogen facility and more! It's all big news, but what's really fascinating in May's news roundup is the apparent candidate shortage at a time when job vacancies have outstripped unemployment for the first time on record. It's complicated, but it could mean a ripe hiring period for graduates. Read on!
Lotus opens new sports car manufacturing facility at Hethel
Lotus has formally opened its new sports car manufacturing plant in Hethel. The Chapman Production Centre has been named after Colin Chapman, the company's founder and inspiration.
The centre is part of a £100 million investment by Lotus in the UK that includes Lotus Advanced Structures (LAS), Lotus' new sub-assembly factory in Norwich. It represents further investment in the Lotus team, which has more than doubled in value since Geely took over as primary stakeholder in 2017. Lotus has added 300 new employees to its vehicle assembly and production activities including skilled manufacturing operatives, engineers and technicians.
All new Lotus recruits have been taught the high-quality manufacturing processes required to begin their careers, at LAS's new Lotus Learning Academy.
McLaren Racing to join Formula E
McLaren Racing will open the next phase of its electric motorsport journey when it enters the 2022/2023 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship from Season Nine, and the beginning of the Gen3 era in the pioneering all-electric race series. The move means the McLaren racing portfolio will extend to Formula 1, IndyCar, Extreme and esports.
The brand says its move into Formula E “not only reflects McLaren’s commitment to EV motorsport but the aim to accelerate McLaren Racing’s sustainability journey and reach a new, more diverse global audience.”
The McLaren Formula E Team will be achieved through the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, expected to be completed later this year.
Manufacturing & Technology
UK’s first Green Hydrogen production facility set to open
The first Green Hydrogen manufacturing plant in the UK’s South West is set to be built at the new Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) research facility at the Bristol and Bath Science Park. The plant will become operational in Spring 2023 and has been made possible due to a successful £2.5M bid to the UK Research Partnership Innovation Fund (RPIF), and will allow IAAPS (which becomes operational this summer) to sustainably produce the gas for its research and testing work.
The new manufacturing capability will support vital research and innovation into sustainable propulsion technologies and the use of hydrogen as an alternative green energy to achieve net zero targets while acting as a regional and national demonstrator for local green energy generation and use.
IAAPS is a world-leading centre of excellence for research, innovation, enterprise and education, supporting the future direction of the transport industry and the transition towards net zero. The production and storage facility will form the basis of a regional H2 and Sustainable Transport Acceleration Hub, working with over 30 cross-sector partners to stimulate green growth in the region and to provide an important link in the national hydrogen research infrastructure.
REE Automotive to build commercial EV plant in UK's Coventry
REE Automotive has announced it will build an assembly plant in Coventry to supply customers in Europe. The Israeli-based start-up, which develops rolling chassis for commercial electric vehicles, says the highly-automated plant will be completed this year in partnership with Rockwell Automation and Expert Technologies, and will have an annual production capacity of 10,000 EV chassis. The site will use cloud-based infrastructure and could require as few as seven staff.
REE’s EV platform does away with axles, instead using four separate wheels that each have their own steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control, allowing its vehicles to have flatter bottoms which provide more space for cargo.
Executives & Leaders
Amadeo Felisa to join Aston Martin as CEO
Iconic British sports marque Aston Martin is to get its third Chief Executive in three years when former Ferrari boss Amadeo Felisa takes over Tobias Moers’ role at the top of the company. Moers, who had two years in charge of the brand, leaves the board with immediate effect but will stay with the company until the end of July to support the leadership team during the transition.
Felisa joined Aston Martin’s board as a non-executive director in July 2021. He will oversee the electrification of Aston Martin’s range, reorganise the company’s structure and make appointments in the coming weeks. It is already known that Roberto Fedeli, another former Ferrari executive, will become Aston Martin’s chief technical officer.
Job vacancies outpace unemployment for first time: the perfect environment for more graduate recruitment?
For the first time since records began, there are more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK. Unemployment fell to 3.7% between January and March, its lowest for nearly 50 years, while job openings rose to a high of 1.3 million.
However, the Office of National Statistics says the reality is a “mixed picture” for people, with wages failing to keep pace with the increasing food and fuel costs.
ONS data shows a rise in the number of people moving from economic inactivity (those aged 16-64 who haven't been working or seeking a job) into employment, while people moving from job to job also reached a record high "driven by resignations rather than dismissals".
Total employment, while up on the quarter, remains below its pre-pandemic level; since the start of the pandemic, around half a million more people have completely disengaged from the labour market, while job vacancies are still rising, reaching yet another record high.