According to Tata Motors‘ Jaguar Land Rover’s Reimagine plan, “the first all-electric Land Rover model” won’t be launched until 2024. But the brand will at least have “six battery-electric variants within the next five years”. JLR is aiming for 60% of its worldwide sales to be fully electric by the latter half of the 2020s, the remainder being mild hybrids (30%) and plug-in hybrids (10%). A second target – to only be offering electric vehicles by 2036 – will inevitably be brought forward. As of now though, 15 years’ time is officially when the final ICE model will be made. Under Reimagine, the strategy for Land Rover remains gradual electrification and the continuation of three vehicle groupings: Discovery, Defender and Range Rover.

There has been a major shift in focus in South Korea towards what is seen as a major new growth industry for the next two decades. The country is moving rapidly to position itself as a leader in the global electric vehicle supply chain, backed by proactive government policies and by local conglomerates that are investing heavily to secure future supplies of raw materials to components. In the last year the governments of most developed economies around the world have announced plans to phase out sales of vehicles powered by internal combustion engine (ICE) in the next 15-20 years as part of their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. This will trigger the biggest upheaval the automotive industry has faced in its history, with vehicle and component manufacturers having to switch to entirely new powertrains and platforms in a relatively short period of time. Many governments currently offer generous incentives to buyers to offset the high purchase costs of electric vehicles, but they expect to phase these out in the coming years as costs continuing to come down as supply chains mature and economies of scale increase. Global EV sales are expected to fall just short of 4m units this year, a fraction of the 90m or so total vehicles expected to be sold worldwide. A complete switch to EVs will therefor require a huge amount of investment and restructuring. The main alternatives to ICE are battery-powered EVs, while fuel cells are expected to feature increasing from the second half of the 2020s. Sourcing sufficient volumes of EV batteries is a major issue facing the automotive industry, with vehicle manufacturers rushing to sign multi-billion dollar deals to secure long-term supplies of batteries. Battery manufacturers on the other hand face the problem of securing sufficient raw materials to enable this industry transformation to take place.

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The COP26 UN climate conference will take place November 1-12 in Glasgow, hosted by the UK government. In a series of articles, we are considering the automotive sector perspective on greenhouse gases, its contribution and reduction measures. This second article looks at developments in commercial vehicles. Governments across the world are eyeing a greener commercial vehicle sector. The UK’s transport decarbonisation plan, for example, will see the sector reach net zero by 2050. The UK government has announced its intention to phase out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by 2040, subject to consultation – combined with the 2035 phase out date for polluting cars and vans (light commercial vehicles, or LCVs). The consultation proposes a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5 to 26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes or earlier if a faster change seems feasible. Commercial vehicles on the road are overwhelmingly diesel driven, but electric powertrains are making good headway in light duty applications. It is partly regulatory driven, but also signals market priorities and the benefits (range) of improved battery performance. As online retail grabs more share of the retail market, delivery demand from/to distribution points are seeing strong growth. According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fuelled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78% by 2030, leading to a 36% increase in delivery vehicles in the world’s top 100 cities. At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third. The pressure is on to decarbonise the forecast required larger vehicle fleet.

BorgWarner has celebrated the reopening of its Seneca, South Carolina, factory, following a 16-month rebuild after the plant was ravaged by a tornado on 13 April, 2020. “The outcome of this natural disaster has showcased our dedicated team’s ability to persevere and come together despite the challenges that were faced. More so, this experience has been a testament to the power of collaboration; within days of the natural disaster about 600 contractors were on site working together, including many local businesses and over 300 workers from our plant in Seneca and across North America,” said Joe McCulloch, plant manager. “Beyond this exemplary level of collaboration, we had a strong community that rallied around and supported us, including the local schools, government, economic agencies and local businesses. For this, I want to extend a big thank you on behalf of BorgWarner to everyone that played a part in the rebirth of our beautiful facility.” Despite significant damage from the tornado, the company’s quality and supply to the industry was not hindered by the unexpected event. In fact, BorgWarner was able to begin production of saleable transfer cases out of Seneca approximately three weeks after the tornado hit, with the total rebuild taking about 16 months to complete. While the facility was reconstructed to match the original footprint, the exterior appearance and interior offices and meeting spaces were upgraded to align with current BorgWarner standards.

Tevva, the electric truck pioneer, said it had received GBP4.2m, the majority share of a GBP5.7m total grant from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). This will help finance the development of its next generation, zero-emission, long-range medium duty trucks (7.5 to 19t gross vehicle weight). The grant will be used to advance the SANGREAL Project, a GBP12.2m collaboration between Tevva and Advanced Electric Machines (AEM), an internationally recognised designer and manufacturer whose vision is to build the most sustainable motors in the world. As the electrification of the medium to heavy duty truck market has largely been overlooked, Tevva and AEM will build upon their combined, existing and experience in commercial vehicle electrification to accelerate the development of Tevva’s fuel cell range extended medium to heavy duty commercial electric vehicles for the 7.5–19t ‘ ‘back to base’ logistics market. The project involves the design and development of an innovative electric transaxle and intelligent vehicle propulsion control system with on-board telematics which is designed to optimise the use of the H2 fuel cell range extender for operating range and reliability and enable predictive and preventative servicing. SANGREAL will create and safeguard vital UK-based research and manufacturing jobs, delivering cost and environmental benefits to the industry as well as to social stakeholders and the public. Ken Scott, chief engineer at Tevva, said: “We are humbled and proud to be receiving this grant to continue developing groundbreaking technology in the EV market.”

Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Company was expected soon to announce a US$280m deal to acquire Lordstown Motors Corporation, a US company established to take over a car plant in Ohio from General Motors just two years earlier, according to reports in Taiwan citing people close to the company. Lordstown acquired the plant in 2019 after it had been shut down by GM in March of that year, with the hope of securing its future by transforming it into an electric vehicle manufacturing operation. The facility, which previously made the Chevrolet Cruze, was built with an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles in 1996. Hon Hai, also known as Apple’s leading contract manufacturer Foxconn, has ambitions to become a significant player in the global EV market and related supply chain through its newly-established Foxtron Vehicle Technologies. It is positioning itself as a global EV contract manufacturer and has developed a dedicated EV platform which it makes available to its customers. Acquiring Lordstown Motors would speed up the company’s entry into North America where it has agreed a contract manufacturing deal with EV startup Fisker Motors and is in talks with other potential EV partners including Apple. Lordstown Motors would benefit from the significant resources that Hon Hai would bring, including funds and manufacturing supply chain, allowing the plant to ramp up production more quickly. Since it took over the plant, Lordstown Motors has been developing a new battery powered pickup truck, the Endurance.

Tomorrow’s car seats will incorporate immersive solutions based on sound, thermal, haptic wellness and safety. To learn more, we spoke to Dirk Brassat, VP of Engineering Faurecia Seating North America.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, Just Auto