Joe Turner, our Principal for Manufacturing Strategy, shares his insights from a recent trip to the Cenex LCV show and what this means in the context of the recent regulation change on the sales ban of ICE vehicles in the UK.
Despite the UK government’s announcement last week to push back the ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles from 2030 to 2035, a recent visit to Cenex’s LCV show, coupled with recent developments from our customers, has helped me to remain hopeful about our overall electrification journey.
If you’ve not been to it before, the LCV show hosted by Cenex, provides a showcase of the latest vehicles, technologies and thought leadership in the UK that is pushing the decarbonisation of the automotive sector. It was great to connect with some familiar faces as well as many new ones. It was the first time i’d been back in a couple of years and I was struck by a number of key observations:
1. Hydrogen propulsion technology is being firmly championed by key innovators in the commercial vehicle and truck sector. At LCV, I saw a range of Hydrogen based vehicles on show, from Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and commercial vans to waste disposal trucks and tractors. OEM’s such as Tevva, JCB and Case New Holland were exhibiting their Hydrogen propulsion systems with demonstrators on show. Although absent at LCV, HVS trucks are another innovator who have been making strides in bringing hydrogen trucks to commercial reality. Whilst the powertrain technology clearly seems to be moving in the right direction, there remains a major question as to whether the supporting infrastructure will develop in tandem, to support the large scale uptake & roll out of this low carbon solution.
2. Last mile delivery solutions are receiving a lot more attention. With the huge growth in online shopping, grocery and take away delivery, I was delighted to see a wide range of small, electric delivery systems on show, supported by the Niche vehicle network. This will help to enable the electrification of the last mile delivery industry and reduce tailpipe emissions for this growing eco-system of delivery vehicles.
3. Electrified ‘Retro-mods’ are growing and showing that EVs can be characterful and cool. It was fascinating to not only view new & native EV/H2 platforms on show, but the re-purposing of classic ICE architectures towards electrification. In my view the vehicle re-configuring industry will be a steadily growing area of specialist expertise, for many discerning drivers who want to blend the classic and the new together and maintain the compliance and useability of classic vehicles into the future.
4. There was a strong turnout from the wider EV value chain. From software development businesses, novel charging systems, recyclers, to test providers. Alongside the established industry stalwarts, there appears to be a growing eco-system of smaller start up’s, many of whom are closely supported by UKRI and its subsidiary bodies. It will be fascinating to see how many of them develop over time as the industry matures. There did appear to be a distinct lack of battery manufacturers exhibiting, which in my view highlights the scarcity of local development of battery manufacturing scale up in the UK – which remains a fundamental challenge as such a critical element of the supply chain.
5. Power electronics, motors and drives were also a key showcase at this years show. Ford are rightly celebrating the transition of their Halewood site towards large scale, e-motor manufacturing. GKN were also showcasing their innovation in designs and performance for various market sectors. A small number of power electronics were also present. Away from Cenex, the UK government is finally getting together a joined-up strategy on semi-conductor development and manufacture. Whether it will be enough to reverse years of neglect and catalyse manufacturing sector growth to the point where the UK is back in competition with equivalents in Asia and USA remains to be seen. It will be incredibly exciting to see how power electronic manufacturing facilities and the overall sector scales up in the coming period, with many viewing it as the next frontier in the battle for EV supremacy.
Whether you welcome or wince at the decision to push back the ban on the sale of ICE vehicles to 2035, what is clear is that government, industry and investors do not use it as an excuse to ‘kick the can down the road’. We need to continue to develop the powertrains, vehicles and infrastructure at just as much pace as before. HSSMI is committed to supporting the innovators who will remain proactive in developing these technologies and scaling up production.
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