Hope springs eternal, and there’s a distinctly optimistic flavour to January’s news roundup!
After the collapse of Britishvolt, there’s hope for the UK’s EV future as US manufacturer Nanotech Energy announces its interest in building a Gigafactory here. Meanwhile, the motorsport industry has created a new coaching pathway that should inspire future interest in the sport, and, in one of our favourite stories we’ve seen in an age, a new Engineering Gallery will open at the London Science Museum to help change perceptions of engineering: an industry that changes the world!
Subdued but rising: the UK car market in 2022
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has released its latest figures, which reveal that while supply chain shortages subdued the new car market to 1.61m units in 2022, the UK has reclaimed its position as Europe’s second biggest market. Battery EVs became Britain’s second most popular powertrain after petrol, and the sector overall is poised to deliver growth worth £8.4 billion during 2023.
The UK new car market recorded its fifth consecutive month of growth in December, with an 18.3% increase to reach 128,462 new registrations. This second half year performance was not enough to offset declines recorded during the first half of 2022, and despite underlying demand, pandemic-related global parts shortages saw overall registrations for the year fall to around 700,000 units below pre-Covid levels.
Fleets and business buyers were responsible for two thirds of battery electric vehicles; to meet its climate change targets, the UK still has a way to go to persuade more private buyers to go electric.
Motorsport UK opens up a pathway into coaching
Motorsport UK has opened up a Coach Development Pathway to inspire and improve British drivers. The Coach Development Pathway aims to support anyone who is involved in engaging and developing participants in the sport, at all levels and embed best practice for coaching. The new pathway will actively raise the standard of coaching, ensuring minimum standards are delivered across the sport within the UK and develop the skillsets within the coaching community to increase their value to competitors.
The pathway includes two levels: the Accelerator Award, an introductory, online course delivered through Motorsport UK’s Coaching Hub, open to anybody ages 17 or over who is enthusiastic about the sport and wants to support motorsport participants; and a Certificate in Coaching Motorsports which is a formal coaching qualification.
Manufacturing & Tech
Tevva begins high-volume production of electric lorries
Startup Tevva has become the first company to begin high-volume production of electric lorries in the UK. The company has started making its 7.5 tonne electric truck for customers at a facility in Tilbury, Essex, after receiving the regulatory clearance required for volume manufacturers.
The trucks built this year will go to customers including the Royal Mail and the builders’ supplier Travis Perkins, with the aim of selling 1,000 vehicles in 2023. Decarbonising lorries will be a crucial part of efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions, with heavy goods vehicles contributing about 19% of the UK’s carbon emissions from transport in 2020, according to the Department for Transport.
UK handed EV lifeline as new £1bn gigafactory announced
Following the disappointing collapse of Britishvolt, US battery manufacturer Nanotech Energy has revealed that it is investigating seven sites in the UK as the final location for a potential £1billion new gigafactory.
Gigafactories are seen as vital to boosting the UK’s EV industry as the Government looks to ban fossil fuel car sales by 2035, so Nanotech Energy’s statement that the UK could soon “become a second home for the production of (our) patented, high-performing, non-flammable graphene-powered lithium-ion batteries” represents a lifeline for the future of EV in the UK.
Executives & Leaders
Bentley design chief to head VW brand styling
Volkswagen brand is replacing its design chief, Jozef Kaban, with Bentley's design boss, Andreas Mindt, according to company sources. Mindt will take up the post at VW brand on February 1st.
Sources suggest that Mindt's successor at Bentley will be Tobias Suehlmann, who currently heads exterior design at the VW Group ultraluxury brand. Suehlmann joined Bentley in October 2021, having previously worked at Bugatti, Aston Martin, McLaren and VW brand, while Kaban, who took charge of VW brand design in 2020, will be given a new post within VW Group. While it has kept its own counsel on the mooted changes, VW Group is expected to officially announce the appointments in the coming days.
New Science Museum gallery ‘challenges misconceptions of what engineers do’
We welcome news about a new Engineers Gallery at London’s Science Museum, due to open this summer. The gallery will challenge “common misconceptions of what engineers do”, and could help inspire the next generation of engineering talent in the UK.
The installation will feature the stories of 60 engineers from a broad range of industries, including farming, fashion, robotics and medicine, highlighting their motivations, thought processes and day-to-day work. The stories will be organised in four sections: Bodies will look at controlled drug delivery and surgical robots; Lives will illustrate how engineers work sustainably; Connections will represent engineering as a connected profession with diverse teams, and Creating will show how engineers create products, from software to suspension bridges.