Automotive News, February 2017

Average car prices have risen by 5.2% since the Brexit vote in June 2016, according to industry research.  The City expects the UK’s Consumer Prices Index (CPI) to reach 1.9% in the year to January. It has risen steadily from -0.1% in October 2015 to 1.6% in December 2016.


It said the price of some larger people-carriers had gone up by as much as 12.3%, although some other luxury cars were actually cheaper. In 2016, 86% of the cars sold in the UK were imported from abroad, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).





Luxury supercar manufacturer McLaren is to build a £50m chassis factory in South Yorkshire creating 200 jobs. The “world-class” facility will be built at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) near Rotherham.  Construction is due to start “in early 2017”, with full production of advanced carbon fibre chassis by 2020.


McLaren and the University of Sheffield, said two years of research and development would be undertaken ahead of production.  Professor Keith Ridgway, of the AMRC, said the news was “tremendous” for the city and for wider UK manufacturing. “It represents a new model that repositions manufacturing in Sheffield, taking it on from coal and steel to high performance components for the automotive as well as the aerospace sector,” he said.


McLaren said it had been the first company to recognise the “exceptional properties” of carbon fibre and had built its road and racing cars from the material since 1981.

The first pre-production chassis, to be built using trial processes, is expected in the second half of 2017.





Volkswagen has agreed to pay at least $1.2bn (£1bn) to fix or buy back 78,000 diesel cars in the US to settle more emissions-cheating claims. Without regulatory approval, the German car giant could be forced to buy back all of the cars, costing it about $4bn. The deal still needs approval from the courts.


Car components company Robert Bosch, a VW supplier, has also agreed to pay $327.5m to US owners of affected cars.


Owners of 2009 to 2012 models could get between $26,000 to $58,000 for a buyback, depending on the model, mileage, and trim of the car. For owners and people leasing 2013 to 2016 models, Volkswagen is expected to get regulatory approval for a fix that makes the cars compliant with US environmental regulations.


If VW fails to get Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board approval for the modification within a certain time frame, it must offer to buy back those vehicles, upping the amount it has to pay to about $4bn.

VW has already agreed to pay $10bn to compensate around 482,000 people who bought cars with two-litre diesel engines that had been fitted with defeat devices. That included the cost of repairing or buying back affected vehicles. At the same time, it agreed to spend $4.7bn on schemes to offset excess emissions and develop clean vehicles.


This now takes the total bill for the scandal in the US to more than £20bn.  A hearing will be held in late February on whether to grant preliminary approval for the settlements.





McLaren Automotive and BMW Group have entered a partnership to design and develop technology for the next generation of cleaner, more powerful supercar powertrains.


The project will develop new combustion technology that will deliver a higher output per capacity than currently possible, and aim to further facilitate C02 reductions while simultaneously increasing engine output. The technology is destined for application in future McLaren engines.


The University of Bath, the sole academic institution working on the project, will work alongside McLaren Automotive and BMW and leverage its Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre’s expertise in internal combustion engine systems efficiency.


The syndicate also includes engineering consultancy and current McLaren engine manufacturer Ricardo; Grainger and Worrall who will deliver complex, lightweight casting technology; and Lentus Composites who will contribute knowledge in specialist composite structures.


Supported and part-funded by the UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the project will also aim to improve the UK’s development and production capabilities of low C02 internal combustion engine technology. The project forms a part of McLaren’s Track22 plan, which includes a £1 billion investment into research and development over the next five years with a view to launching 15 new cars by 2022. The plan also encompasses new powertrains and hybrid technology on at least 50% of the McLaren product range by 2022.





The new automotive market in the UK has experienced the most successful January for 12 years, according to data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


The statistics show that 174,564 new vehicles left car show rooms last month, a 2.9% year-on-year uplift and the highest level since 2005. In January last year 169,678 vehicles were sold.


One of the most interesting statistics to come from the report is the fact that the alternatively fuelled vehicles sector grew by almost 20%. This took the market share of alternatively fuelled vehicles to 4.2%, the first time that number has ever been passed by alternatively fuelled vehicles.


Other fuel types – New petrol car registrations grew by 8.9% and diesel vehicle registrations shrank by 4.3%. Elsewhere in the market private motorists led the growth, registering 76,729 new vehicles which is growth of 5%.  Fleet demand grew by 1.4%, while business registrations were one of the only sectors to see negative growth with minus 1%.





JLR has hit a new January sales record. The figure of 47,693 was 4% up on January last year.  It followed a record 2016 for the luxury car group which saw sales rise by 20% to 583,313 vehicles.   The January sales included 13,949 Jaguars – up 76% – and 33,744 Land Rovers, a rise of 11%.  Strong sales across North America and China helped drive JLR.


The month’s performance saw improved sales of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the Range Rover Sport and the Jaguar F-PACE. Jaguar LR delivered solid retail sales growth across many of its key regions with North America up 29%, China up 14% and the UK up three months. Europe and other overseas markets were down for the month.


The best-seller for the month was the Discovery Sport, with 10,454 vehicles sold, up 10% year-on-year.


Over the past five years, JLR has doubled sales and employment, more than tripled turnover and invested over £12 billion in new product creation and capital expenditure.


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