Automotive News – Late February 2021

The University of Birmingham has launched a three-year research project with Bentley Motors to deliver a sustainable source of rare earth magnets for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The £2.6m RaRE (Rare-earth Recycling for E-machines) project is funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, and involves six partners who will work together to establish the first end-to-end supply chain of recycled rare earth magnets in the UK.

Rare earth magnets are found in almost every appliance that uses electricity to generate motion.  In the last 30 years their use has increased exponentially, and although they are increasingly important in the transition to a low carbon economy, less than 1% of these magnets is recycled.

Jaguar Land Rover is set to cut about 2,000 non-factory jobs globally in the next financial year as part of a full review of its organisation.

The company says it is making every possible efficiency to create an “agile” future for the business.

The car giant is to spend about £2.5 billion annually on electrification, low carbon and digital technologies

JLR has announced plans to cut 2,000 non-factory jobs, just days after it committed to its UK plants and revealed a huge investment in a zero emission future.

The company said it had begun to inform salaried staff on the detail of the organisational review which is designed to slash costs and create a more “agile” business.

Carmaker Ford has said its passenger vehicle line-up in Europe will be all-electric by 2030.

By the middle of 2026, all its cars will be available as electric or hybrid models, it added.

It joins a growing list of car brands cutting petrol and diesel production, including Jaguar and Bentley.

European regulators are clamping down on emissions, with countries including UK planning to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel motors.

Coventry City Council is to enter into a joint venture partnership with Coventry Airport to develop proposals for a Gigafactory which could be operational by 2025.

They will join forces to develop proposals, which could create 4,000 jobs, and submit an outline planning application for a Gigafactory at the airport in 2021.

This will take place alongside regional discussions with battery suppliers and automotive manufacturers to secure the long-term investment needed.

The council and the airport say the move will improve the attractiveness of the West Midlands as a destination for investment, while reducing the time needed for a Gigafactory to become operational.

The West Midlands is already the heart of the UK automotive sector, and home to several automotive manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda, BMW, LEVC and others.

Wrightbus, the Northern Irish bus manufacturer owned by JCB heir Jo Bamford, has announced the creation of more than 40 new jobs as it ramps up production of the world’s first hydrogen-fuel-cell double-deckers.

It has made the move in response to the government’s pledge to help fund 4000 new British-built zero-emissions buses over the next five years.

This news follows the recent announcement by Alexander Dennis (ADL), the UK’s biggest bus builder, that it will take over the design and assembly of chassis for its electric buses at its base in Larbert, Scotland. This was previously the responsibility of BYD, its Chinese partner company.

Jaguar Land Rover workers across the West Midlands have been told their jobs are secure for now – despite the company announcing plans to become all-electric by 2025.

JLR announced its intention to phase out diesel engines and simplify its business – casting doubt over the future of its factories across the region, including the giant engine manufacturing centre next to the M54 north of Wolverhampton.

However the luxury car maker said there would be no compulsory job losses, with its UK sites set to be adapted to accommodate the new electric models.

JLR employs around 40,000 people across the UK, including more than 1,000 at the i54 in Wolverhampton where it makes petrol and diesel engines.

 Diesel engines are now set to be phased out by 2026 as the company invests £2.5 billion a year developing electric technology.

Announcing the “Reimagine Strategy”, JLR chief executive Thierry Bolloré said the brand would retain all its “core plants” for the new electric models.

Mr Bollore, who succeeded Sir Ralf Speth in September, said the ambition was to “become the creator of the world’s most desirable luxury vehicles” and stressed that all car plants and assembly facilities around the world would be retained.

The plant at Solihull, which is the company’s biggest with around 10,000 staff, will be home to future advances in Jaguars.

However the future of the Castle Bromwich plant was less certain.

Ford has confirmed plans to re-establish its presence in the UK ambulance market, working with Brighouse-based emergency vehicle manufacturer, Venari Group.

They will be producing an innovative new Transit ambulance under the code name Project Siren.

Scheduled to enter production in mid-2021, the vehicle’s lightweight design will offer all the equipment and capability of a front-line ambulance within a 3.5-tonne gross vehicle weight.

Based on the Ford Transit chassis cab, the body and conversion will be built wholly in the UK by Venari Group – parent company of the UK’s leading ambulance manufacturer, O&H Vehicle Technology.

After Ford and Jaguar announced plans to go fully electric earlier this month, what are the commitments the world’s biggest carmakers have made to electrify their vehicle portfolios.


On Monday (15 February), Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) announced a new business strategy headlined by a commitment to stop producing petrol and diesel vehicles under its Jaguar brand by 2025 and switch to electric-only models. Given that Jaguar only produces one pure-electric model at present and outsources production, the commitment marks a major shift for the firm.


New plans for Land Rover, meanwhile, will see the brand stop producing ICE vehicles for sale in the UK by 2030, in line with the Government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars. Global production will then stop by 2036.


Then, on Wednesday (17 February), Ford announced plans to only sell pure electric passenger cars in Europe from 2030. It will stop selling pure petrol and pure diesel by 2026, then work to phase out hybrids.

The news from Ford came on the same day that The Climate Group provided the second annual progress update on its EV100 initiative. The report revealed that 101 businesses have joined the commitment and that this cohort has rolled out 169,000 EVs to date, with more than half having hit the road in 2020. But it also highlighted a number of challenges around business EV integration, including concerns around charging infrastructure and a lack of suitable models – particularly in the heavy goods vehicle space.


Summer 2020 saw BMW unveiling a new climate plan, including a commitment to cut emissions from vehicle use by one-third by the end of the decade.

To meet this target, BMW is aiming to have more than seven million EVs on roads by the end of the decade – two-thirds of them being pure-electric. It will launch five pure-electric vehicles by the end of 2021 and additional models in the coming years, resulting in a portfolio of 25 EV models by the end of 2023.


Back in 2018, Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler outlined plans to purchase more than £18bn worth of electric vehicle (EV) battery cells by 2030.

It is aiming to have 130 pure electric and hybrid vehicles on offer by the end of 2022 across its portfolio of brands. At least 10 of these models will be Mercedes-Benz; Daimler expects electrified models to account for 15-25% of the brand’s annual sales in 2025.

A fully electrified portfolio is not on the cards, though. A strategy statement last updated this week summarises that “combustion engines are a long way from being obsolete”.–How-are-big-carmakers-approaching-the-EV-transition-/7036





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