Jaguar Invests £100m in Castle Bromwich Factory

Photo Credit:  Jesse Nandra

Photo Credit: Jesse Nandra

Jaguar Landrover has announced the investment in order to meet demand for its popular XE saloon. The XE has previously been built along with the F Pace at the Solihull plant, but due to an increase in popularity, it will shift production of the saloon to Castle Bromwich.  The 112-acre site, already produces the XE, the new Jaguar F-Type and the XJ luxury saloon. It currently employs over 3,000 people, but there is no suggestion of a job increase with the investment.

“The significant investment to create two centres of excellence in aluminium vehicle manufacturing, utilising shared technologies, was deliberate. It gives us the flexibility to quickly respond to consumer demand for our growing range of products.” - Wolfgang Stadler, Jaguar Land Rover’s executive director of manufacturing.


General Motors Revamps its Philanthropy Initiative

Photo Credit:  Michael Kumm

Photo Credit: Michael Kumm

The former General Motors Foundation will become 'GM Philanthropy and Corporate Giving' as the company attempts to step up its charitable activities and community investment. The new entity will be presided over by Jackie Parker, founder of JWP consultancy, which was created to help companies develop their charity and social responsibility programmes. When asked about the GM's rationale for the overhauling of it’s social improvement wing, Parker responded, “As General Motors takes on a global scope for its philanthropic missions, we’ll shift our strategic focus areas accordingly. The needs in [the USA] are vastly different than the needs of the communities we touch abroad. We’ll take those needs into account as we shift our focus to drive a strong impact around the globe”. The changes are expected to be implemented later this year.



London Startup to Produce Driverless Cars by 2019

Photo Credit:  Automobile Italia

Photo Credit: Automobile Italia

London based FiveAI raised over £2m in July and claims it will have driverless cars on the road in 2019 - two years earlier than predicted by Ford or BMW. The company believes its advanced machine learning system will give it an advantage over competitors. The vehicle would use an array of sensors to accurately assess it’s surroundings, without relying on high resolution 3d maps. This will however, mean that FiveAI’s car will require more on-board processing power than systems designed by competitors, such as Google. Company founder, Stan Bolan, is the former CEO of chip designer Element14 and founder of mobile technology firm Icera, which he sold to Nvidia for $367m in 2011. Bolan says that the first batch of vehicles will be limited to city perimeters, until consumers are ‘ready’ for fully free roaming vehicles.


Stakes raised for self-driving startups

Photo Credit:  Automotive Rhythms

Photo Credit: Automotive Rhythms

Since the fatal accident of tech company owner, Joshua Brown, in a Tesla Model S in autopilot mode, several questions have been raised about the testing practices of self-driving vehicles. While Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras and radar, it does not use lidar.  which the company admits would have made it difficult for the system to distinguish the white trailer positioned across the road, against a bright sky. Industry experts are predicting an increase in investment into self-driving startups as they aim to be the first to solve the problems that the Tesla crash raised. In the next three to four years, it is anticipated that semi-automated systems from the likes of General Motors Co, Volkswagen, Audi and Ford Motor Co, will hit the market. 


Volkswagen emission settlements tally over $15bn

Photo Credit:  Ulrika

Photo Credit: Ulrika

While official numbers will be announced today in Washington, Volkswagen are looking at a bill of over $15 billion cash in order to settle the diesel emissions scandal that they admitted to in September 2015. The largest ever automotive buyback in U.S. history and the most expensive automotive-industry scandal, Volkswagen admitted to intentionally misleading environmental regulators by installing secret software that allowed U.S. vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowed pollution, accounting for approximately 475,000 cars. The Guardian reported that current owners of 2.0 litre diesel VW 2009-2015 cars will receive an average of $5,000 in compensation, as well as the estimated value of the vehicle as of September 2015. Prior owners will receive half of this and individuals who leased cars will also get compensation. These settlements, along with approximately $5 billion extra to offset excess diesel emissions and boost zero emissions vehicles, plus a $500 million settlement with U.S. state attorney generals, will equate to more than $15 billion. German prosecutors are currently investigating former Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn and another unidentified executive as to whether they intentionally manipulated markets by delaying admission to the scandal. 


Tesla intends to acquire SolarCity

Photo Credit:  cchana

Photo Credit: cchana

Earlier this week, Tesla announced its intentions to acquire SolarCity as it strives to become the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to its customers. On top of its existing electric vehicles and Powerwall energy storage battery packs, this acquisition would add power generation via solar panels to Tesla’s product line, making it a one-stop-shop for sustainable energy. The integration of Tesla’s Powerwall storage systems and SolarCity’s solar panels, also allows voids duplication as both systems currently have to have their own control computers and modems, connecting to different clouds. Assuming all shareholders approve of the billion dollar deal, Elon Musk believes you might be able to buy an integrated solar system at your local Tesla store sometime next year.


Cox Enterprises commits $25m to sustainability + tech by 2020

As part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) program, Cox Enterprises, a leading communications, media and automotive services company, has announced its Commitment to Action to invest $25 million in sustainable companies and technologies by 2020. By actively identifying sustainability initiatives, Cox Enterprises will provide organisations with financial support to help bring concepts to scale and provide backing for further innovation in the sustainable space. Organisations will also have the opportunity to learn from the company’s sustainability experts and potentially pilot their technologies within one of the Cox companies. Alex Taylor, Cox Enterprises Executive Vice President believes that this investment is “not only smart for the environment, but it’s also good for business.”

Cox Conserves was launched in 2007 and has already prevented 65,000 tons of carbon from entering the environment, diverted 6,000 tons of waste from landfill, and conserved 55 million gallons of water. Their goal is to send zero waste to landfill by 2024, and be carbon and water neutral by 2044.


Nissan Buys 34% Stake in Mitsubishi

Japanese car manufacturer Nissan has announced it is acquiring a 34% equity stake in Mitsubishi Motors in a deal worth £1.5 billion. However, the deal is subject to regulatory approval and also needs the support of Mitsubishi shareholders. If approved, Nissan would become the largest shareholder of Mitsubishi. The announcement comes in the wake of Mitsubishi's recent fuel efficiency scandal, in which it was revealed the car maker had used testing methods that were not in compliance with Japanese regulations for 25 years. Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn said the deal with Mitsubishi is a win-win for both companies, and Mitsubishi's CEO Osamu Masuko said the alliance with Nissan is a way of restoring confidence in the company.



Easyjet Reports Loss; their Shares rise by 2.9%

British low-cost airline Easyjet has posted a loss of £24 million for the six months ended 31 March 2016, in contrast to a £7 million profit recorded for the same period last year. Net profits were hit by a falling pound and attacks in Egypt, Paris, and Brussels. Total revenues rose 0.3% to £1.77 billion and the number of passengers increased 7.4% to 31.0 million. CEO Carolyn McCall said the airline had delivered strong results despite challenging events, and expressed confidence regarding the prospects for the rest of the year. The market reacted positively on the news and Easyjet shares rose 2.9% in London trading on Tuesday.


The Google crash everyone's talking about :0

Google's Lexus RX450h ran into Mountain View, Calif, transit bus on the 14th of February 2016. The altercation between the car and the bus opened up the discussion for the launch of vehicle-to-external communications (V2X). Google's autonomous vehicles have been involved in a number of minor accidents during the testing period, however these collisions were always caused by a human driver. While the vehicles are intelligent enough to respond to most situations this altercation proves there is a market for V2X.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications could help solve disagreements between two cars from different manufacturers with different software or sensors to ensure they inform their intent to each before proceeding. By 2025 Navigant Research projects up to 80 million new vehicles will be annually equipped with V2X communications capability. This begs the question, should all new cars contain V2X communications from here on out. General Motors is set to launch the software on the 2017 Cadillac CTS, it will be the first automaker to launch V2V. Other automakers including BMW, Honda and Toyota are buoyant on V2X technology. 


Skoda premieres the new ‘Superb Black Crystal’ saloon

Prepare to be captivated this fall by the brand new ŠKODA ‘Superb Black Crystal’. The Czech automobile manufacturer has teamed up with the renowned glassworks PRECIOSA, to create a crystallised saloon, premiering in Prague at the Designblok 2015, Czech Design and Fashion Week. Based on the Skoda Superb sedan, the upgraded saloon comes with wheel rims coated in stardust, a front and rear crystallised logo, and a steering wheel made of high quality crystals. 

Named the new show car by its manufacturers, the ‘Superb Black Crystal’ keeps the Laurin & Klement emblem shining bright with small crystals illuminating the symbol. Chief Designer Josef Kabaň quotes “Through precision-processed glass crystals, the show car looks like an item of jewellery only to be worn on special occasions.”

In summer 2015 Skoda used the same resurfacing technique to create the Tour de France winner trophies.

Introducing Porsche's new turbo charged 911

Last week Porsche announced the new 911 Carrera and Carrera S featuring turbocharged engines for the first time. Since 1975 the 911 Turbo was the only model available with a turbocharger, now the option will be available in both the Carrera and Carrera S. The 3.4 litre flat six engine in the Carrera and 3.8 litre engine in the Carrera S will be replaced by a 3.0 litre twin turbo-charged flat – six engine in both. There will be an increase of 20hp to 370hp in both vehicles and will accelerate from 0-60 mph 2 seconds faster. The Carrera S will have a top speed of 191 mph and peak torque will be available at 1,700 rpm. The new models will include, multi-touch gestures in the infotainment systems, Apple CarPlay, Google earth and Google street view. The Carrera S will also come with the option of a sports exhaust and rear wheel steering. The Carrera starts at $89,400 and the Carrera S at $103,400. The 911 turbo will still remain the fastest and most expensive vehicle in the range.


Bosch is setting up to acquire advance battery start up Seeo

Fresh out of Silicon Valley, advance battery tech - start-up Seeo is set to be acquired by Bosch. The company received major attention in the Valley this year when it produced remarkable advances in solid state technology. Seeo impressed all when it successfully avoided the use of flammable liquid electrolyte and lithium metal anodes.

CEO Hal Zarem revealed his future plans in a statement last December, to develop a battery with an energy density of 300 watt hours per kilogram; double the amount contained in regular lithium- ion batteries. Although his goal is yet to be achieved the company faces other barriers to market including the small issue of the battery operating at 80 degrees centigrade; 20 degrees more than the average commercial battery.

In recent years the development of advance batteries has been considered a doomed industry; however Seeo could be a promising game changer.


Uber starts research on Self-Driving cars

Earlier this month Uber released a statement declaring plans of a new research partnership with the University of Arizona focused on investigating mapping and optics for self-driving cars. The company is donating $25,000 to the University’s Optical Sciences department with the aim to build a mapping division for Uber technologies. In a bid to make this research work the company recently acquired San Jose mapping startup deCarta. 


Charge your electric car as you drive

The UK will be testing roads that charge electric cars as you drive in a bid to increase the growth of ultra-low emission vehicles in the country. Milton Keynes is the first area to see trials of buses being charged wirelessly through plates in the road. The charging process will be similar to the one currently used to charge busses in South Korea called ‘SMIFR’- Shaped Magnetic Field in Resonance.  Transport Minister Andrew Jones quotes that "the government is already committing £500 million over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology." A contractor is yet to be appointed; more details will be released later on this year.


Elon Musk is building a new "Giga" battery factory for Tesla motors

Tesla share prices are on the rise as the company sets up a new “Gigga” battery factory in Reno, Nevada, in an attempt to create a cheaper alternative to supply batteries to their assembly plant in Fremont, California. The batteries, currently sourced from Panasonic in Japan, are the single most expensive component in their cars. A battery can cost up to $15,000 per vehicle and Tesla estimates to reduce this cost by over 30% with the new “Giga” factory. Musk plans to make all core components in house and supply batteries for utilities, homes and businesses. This is all in relation to his public goal of selling 500,000 cars per year at $35,000 on the Model 3, his affordable, reasonably priced electric car for the masses.