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11-07-2018 | Automotive Manufacturing | News | Article

The Roadmap for the UK Automotive Industry

Andreas Burkert

The British automotive industry does not fear Brexit as much as the transition to sustainable mobility. That is why the country has drawn up a roadmap for low-emission mobility.  

The roadmap focuses on establishing a battery industry that promises to be a multi-billion pound business for British companies according to a recent APC (Advanced Propulsion Centre UK) study. This is also intended to make up for a flaw in the island’s automotive industry. The brands have mostly nothing to do with "Britishness", even though Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Mini are still associated with the British way of life. 

However, now some of the cars are manufactured by a subsidiary of the Indian carmaker Tata Motors, others by Volkswagen or BMW. Only vehicles of Morgan Motors, Bristol Cars and those of the few other suppliers of niche and sports cars can be deemed "really British".

Of course, Aston Martin also claims to be a British sports car manufacturer, but the days when Ford acquired 75 percent of David Brown’s shares have been gone since 2007. Now a consortium led by British racing company Prodrive is the majority shareholder. However, the fact that an Italian private equity fund, Investindustrial, also acquired 37.5 percent of the shares six years ago is rarely discussed; rather the roadmap report is referred to instead.

England is ready for low-emission mobility

The roadmap for the British automotive industry "Towards 2040: A Guide to Automotive Propulsion Technologies" has just been presented in Gaydon, UK. Companies such as Prodrive play just as important a role in this case, as does the Aston Martin Rapid E or the Morgan EV3. Electric mobility is in fact part of the strategy to establish low-emission mobility on the island. Ian Constance, APC’s CEO, asks Springer "to inform the world that the upheaval is already in full swing" and has presented a detailed roadmap on this topic.

Constance and his team have developed the technical innovations required to implement these ambitious plans. The analysts were supported by the expertise of 139 companies and organisations. Constance says that the results should help investors, innovators and governments "bet on the right horse", electrical storage technology, for example. After all, most future powertrain options will require significant battery capacity. With a business volume of around £2.7 billion per year, this is a great opportunity for British companies.

An opportunity for the UK battery chemicals industry

Prospects for the UK battery chemicals industry and the related supply chain are promising. According to APC, developing and manufacturing batteries is one of four initial major challenges, and because the production of battery packs for electric vehicles (EVs) "logically has to take place close to vehicle assembly, battery cells and battery packs are best manufactured in the UK," says the APC CEO. "This could also mitigate the loss of vehicle engine production." The following scenario shows how sensitive this project is.

Around 1.7 million vehicles were produced in the United Kingdom in 2016, of which around 80 percent were exported (SMMT 2017). If, as analysts expect, half of the vehicles produced in 2030 are electrified vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) and have an assumed battery cost per vehicle of £3,200, this will result in a volume of £2.7 billion per year. This is an enormous business for the British chemicals industry alone and just for UK-manufactured cars.

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Background information for this content

01-03-2018 | In the Spotlight | Issue 3/2018

What Brexit Means for the Automotive Industry

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