Automotive News, November 2017

The University of Derby has awarded a Leicestershire business £97,650 to expand overseas.


Vitesse Global provides specialist engine, gearbox and ancillary components to a niche market in the automotive sector. The business, based in Hinckley, says it noticed there was a gap in the market as British sports car manufacturers don’t offer automatic gear boxes to buyers, which limits sales as they are highly popular in some countries.


Morgan Motor Company was keen to work with Vitesse Global to produce an automatic gearbox, but bosses at the firm needed financial support. The funding from the University, which comprised a grant of £65,000 and the remainder as a loan, has covered the costs of the mechanical design and software development, ultimately leading to the development of the final product.

Tim Henderson, managing director of Vitesse Global, said: “We saw there was a market, and we knew there was a demand, but we did not have sufficient investment capacity on our own. We saw ‘Invest to Grow’ as the stepping stone, providing us with the time and input required to deliver the product.”





Luxury sports car manufacturer Aston Martin has told the Commons Business Select Committee it may have to halt production at its factories if the UK fails to agree a deal for exiting the EU. Car manufacturers in the UK will have to have Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) approval for their vehicles in order to continue to sell them within the EU. Should no deal be reached, then manufacturers may have to stop production until a new type of agreement is approved. The committee was convened to discuss the implications of Brexit on the car industry.


Mark Wilson, Aston Martin’s finance chief, told the committee that such a move would have a “semi-catastrophic effect” on the business.


The lack of a deal is also likely to have major implications for the company’s investment in its supply chain. He said Aston Martin was on a fast growth trajectory and as such, was investing more heavily.


Therefore, he said his own business – and the wider industry – needed clarity as soon as possible on what a post-Brexit deal would look like.


“60% of Aston Martin’s supply chain is in the EU with the balance in the UK. As we go through the ramp up now, investing in that supply chain is critical,” he said.


Mr Wilson said the company also had concerns about cars being delayed in European ports post Brexit. “We have concerns about having a significant proportion of our outbound balance sheet sat in ports in Europe waiting to be ticked through,” he said.


Mr Wilson was giving evidence alongside Mike Hawes, chief executive of The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders, and Patrick Keating, Honda Motor Europe’s government affairs manager. All three called for clarity on a transition deal with the EU.





An originally British motorcycle company has inaugurated its new technological centre in Leicestershire to develop, engineer and test its vehicles. Royal Enfield’s brand-new facility, located at the heart of the central Midlands area of UK, is housed at the largest privately-owned vehicle test track facility.


In line with its aim to expand and make gains in the fast-growing global midsize motorcycle segment, Royal Enfield says it has been investing extensively towards increasing capacities, infrastructure and product, and as well as people capabilities.


The UKTC (UK Technology Centre) acts as the innovative hub and global headquarters for product strategy, product development, industrial design, research, programme management and analysis for Royal Enfield.

The facility boasts state of the art equipment and modern workshop facilities that enable engineers to develop authentically styled and accessible motorcycles and future concepts.





Global demand has helped to prop up Jaguar Land Rover amidst falling sales of its vehicles in the UK. However, even with strong markets like China, the manufacturer still only saw a 0.2% growth in year-on-year sales in October.


Latest figures from the group show it sold 46,418 vehicles around the world in October. It said sales were solid on all models, with the new Range Rover Velar and its Jaguar derivative, the F-PACE, bringing new customers to the brand.


Nevertheless, sales for Jaguar overall were down 14% during the month compared with October 2016 at 12,336 vehicles. In contrast. Land Rover saw a 7% growth, with sales of 34,082.  For the 10-months to date, total JLR sales are up 7% at 513,080, with Jaguar up 27% at 149,834 and Land Rover 0.2% at 363,246 units.


The manufacturer said China continued to perform well with sales up 12%, while overseas markets were up 16% compared to the same period in 2016. However, it acknowledged difficult market conditions had led to retail sales being down 18% in the UK, and 3% down in Europe and the US.





The UK new car market saw a further decline in October – falling more than 12% compared with the same month last year. Fears over emissions regulations turned buyers away from diesel-powered vehicles, with the sector declining by almost one third.


The decline was the seventh consecutive month of reduced demand as 158,192 vehicles were registered, down 12.2% on the 180,168 vehicles registered in October last year.


Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) described declines across all sectors, with business and fleet demand down 26.8% and 13.0% respectively. Meanwhile, dealers reported 10.1% fewer private buyers taking delivery of new cars in the month.


Year-to-date, the overall market is down 4.6% on 2016 levels, with 2,224,603 cars registered in the first 10 months. This aligns with the SMMTs latest forecast for 2017, with the market expected to end the year on 2.565 million units – a 4.7% drop on 2016.


Among the leading manufacturers, Jaguar saw a fall of more than 38% in new registrations (1,827 against 2,981 in October 2016), while Land Rover saw a 6.6% dip (5,270 against 5,645).  BMW-owned MINI was down 34.4%, while Vauxhall continued its slump (down almost 35%).


There was better news for Toyota (up more than 13%) but the honours again went to Aston Martin, which showed a 71% increase in new registrations compared with October 2016 (87 cars against 51).

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