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  1. Interview
January 20, 2022updated 21 Jan 2022 2:43pm

2022 Outlook – Q&A with Prodrive

In the latest of our series of sector outlook interviews, we take the temperature from the industry on highlights of the year just gone and prospects for the year ahead. Here, we hear from Tim Colchester, Managing Director, Prodrive Automotive Technology.

By David Leggett

2021 was another memorable year for everyone and for all sorts of reasons. We had a bumpy recovery from the worst of the Covid pandemic, but the automotive industry was also hammered by a shortage of semiconductor parts. In your business, what stand out as the biggest challenges you faced this year?

2020 was a particularly tough year when the Covid restrictions were at their strictest and the industry put many programmes on hold.  But in 2021 we have seen a huge pickup in business, and because of this, recruitment of skilled engineers to meet this demand has been one of the biggest issues.  Our engineering team is now 50% larger than it was in January.  Added to that we, like everyone one else, have been impacted by the global supply chain issues with delays and rising costs having a significant impact.

Any high spots or particular successes you’d like to share?

We have seen a huge bounce back after 2020.  Indeed, our services have been in such high demand, that we have been in the position of having to turn some work away.  This has meant we have been able to focus on the projects where we can really add most value; where our skills of being able to fast-track programmes and turn concepts into reality have allowed us to help our customers bring their products to market quicker.  The Volta electric truck is a great example of how we have helped them rapidly develop prototype and demonstrator vehicles so they can be first to market with their 16-tonne urban delivery vehicle.

While traditionally automotive has been our mainstay, it now probably represents 50% of our business.  We have seen particular growth in the commercial aviation sector, defence and also with the increasing number of start-up businesses who are coming to us because we can also work at the pace they demand.

How are you feeling about 2022 – both in terms of business prospects and more generally?

The prospects for our business are looking very good.  We have a strong order book and are continuing to recruit in order to meet the demand.  We have some very interesting projects from solar powered cars to autonomous defence vehicles; the kind of projects where we can combine our range of technical skills with our core competence of working at pace and rapidly turning concepts into working prototypes.

The supply chain is looking likely to continue to be an issue throughout 2022 and beyond. Fortunately for the manufacturing programmes we have, we can make most of the precision parts within our own facility or source from within the UK, so while it will have an impact, we are able to minimise it.

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