Automotive News – April 2017

March was the best month to date for UK car registrations, according to the car industry trade body. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 562,337 new cars were registered in March, up 8.4% on the same month last year. Those figures were boosted by a change in the number plate in March and planned changes to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), it said.


“These record figures are undoubtedly boosted by consumers reacting to new VED changes, pulling forward purchases into March, especially those ultra-low emission vehicles that will no longer benefit from a zero rate fee,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.  He warned that a slowdown in April is likely, given there are fewer selling days because of the timing of Easter, but overall the market will remain strong.




In a record quarter, Tesla delivered just over 25,000 cars in the first three months of the year. The electric car maker said that was a 70% rise on the same period of 2016.


It is a rebound for the US company after production problems late last year resulted in a 9% fall in deliveries in the fourth quarter.


Last week China’s Tencent Holdings bought a 5% stake in TesIa for almost $1.8bn.


Tesla’s market value has overtaken that of Ford after shares in the electric car maker added more than 7%. Tesla has a market value of $49bn (£38bn), compared with Ford’s value of $46bn.


While Tesla’s sales are growing fast they are still a fraction of Ford’s, which sold almost 6.7 million vehicles in 2016.  TesIa delivered 76,000 electric cars last year.


Tesla has made a huge investment in battery production, building a $5bn factory in Nevada that when fully developed will be the biggest building in the world. As well as supplying batteries for cars, the plant makes batteries for homes and businesses.



McLaren Racing is hoping to accelerate design modifications and reduce the weight of its 2017 Formula 1 MCL32 race car by expanding its use of Stratasys 3D printed components.  According to McLaren Racing, some of the 3D printed parts designed to improve performance which have been applied to the 2017 race car include a hydraulic line bracket; a flexible radio harness location boot; carbon fibre composite brake cooling ducts, and a rear wing flap.


McLaren Honda has 3D printed a structural bracket to attach the hydraulic line on the MCL32 race car, leveraging a 3D printer with carbon fibre-reinforced nylon material. The bracket was reportedly produced in just four hours compared to an estimated two weeks to create using traditional manufacturing processes.


To efficiently control the brake component temperatures, McLaren Honda 3D printed sacrificial tools to create hollow composite brake cooling ducts. The wash-out cores were 3D printed using ST-130 soluble material, developed specifically for the application, and then wrapped with carbon fibre reinforced composite material and autoclave-cured at elevated temperatures. The result is a tubular structure with very smooth internal surface finishes to ensure the required airflow to brakes, while maintaining maximum aerodynamic and car performance.


A large rear wing flap extension designed to increase rear downforce was manufactured in carbon fibre-reinforced composites using a 3D printed lay-up tool.  The team 3D printed the 900mm wide, high temperature (>350T/177X) mould in ULTEM 1010 for the autoclave-cured composite structure in just three days, saving time in a critical limited testing period.



Welsh small and medium-sized manufacturers have a lot to gain from British luxury carmaker, Aston Martin developing Its second UK manufacturing plant in South Wales. Aston Martin launched Phase II of the development at its new St Athan site with a special ceremony on April 6.  Aston Martin St Athan is on target to commence production of the company’s new SUV, the Aston Martin DBX, in 2019.


It was announced that contracts worth more than £60m are available to businesses across Wales following the Welsh government’s decision to open its Sell2Wales procurement channel to the luxury car maker.  It is the first time that private sector contracts have been advertised on Sell2Wales and will ensure Welsh SMEs have easy access to the raft of contracts being awarded by Aston Martin for work linked to the preparation and commencement of production.


Last year Aston Martin announced it had selected St Athan from 20 potential global locations it had been considering for its second manufacturing facility as part of a £200m investment in new products and facilities.

The St Athan site is expected to employ 750 workers before 2020, with a likely 3,000 more across the supply chain and local businesses in Wales. It is estimated the move will bring economic benefits worth half a billion pounds to Wales.

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