Johnathan Dudley, Head of Manufacturing at national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm, Crowe, has called on vehicle manufacturers and automotive suppliers to set aside traditional rivalries in order to build a world leading UK electric vehicle industry.
Dudley said the recent announcement by Jaguar Land Rover that the company was to build a range of fully electric cars at its iconic Castle Bromwich plant was “wonderful news” for the Midlands economy.
Johnathan Dudley, who is also Managing Partner for the Midlands and South West region, added that the fact Jaguar Land Rover was working with BMW on the battery and motor technology, showed the way forward.
“The key differential available to vehicle manufacturers will now be in the vehicle platform, rather than the electronics, where collaboration is seen as a cost and resource imperative.”
Johnathan Dudley called on manufacturers to concentrate on what they were best at – citing Apple for design and Aston Martin as one of the top brands for recognition – “an Apple Aston Martin would certainly make the world sit up and notice. Or, in the West Midlands, what about a Microsoft Range Rover?”
“Battery technology is an evolving science and car manufacturers are best at assembling parts into vehicles and then selling them.
“The announcement that the replacement for the Jaguar XJ will be built at the former production factory of the Supermarine Spitfire reminds us all that we should look wider than battery technology and vehicle assembly.
“The clever avenues to be exploring at present are weight reductions, aerodynamics and chassis design.
“Vehicle designers have to work with the available power units, as did R.J. Mitchell when he was asked to develop what became the iconic Spitfire.”
He pointed out that both Hawker for the Hurricane, and Supermarine for the Spitfire, used the same Rolls Royce Merlin engine, and later the Rolls Royce Griffin.
The Hawker Hurricane had a top speed of 340mph, while the Supermarine Spitfire could achieve 406pmph.
“The Spitfire’s distinctive elliptical wing, cutting edge sunken rivets and thinnest possible cross section enabled a far higher speed than existing contemporary fighters when it made its debut in 1936.”
He said the message translated into the modern era, where the vehicle industry must look to bring forward as quickly as possible the advances made in Formula 1 (F1).
“The centre of F1 research, design and delivery is in the south Midlands, so we have world leading solutions for chassis design, energy recovery, aerodynamics and advances in composites, which will help continue to bring overall weight down, right on our doorstep.”
This, Johnathan Dudley said, would in turn drive the need for further cooperation between the great research bodies available to Midlands industry, such as the Warwick Manufacturing Group, which helped develop the battery technology for the Jaguar I-Pace, the MTC and the Catapult High Value Manufacturing Centres.
Johnathan Dudley said: “Now, more than ever, we need to work our technology advances and expertise to the nth degree.
“Motor manufacturers know that to meet these and other challenges associated with completely changing their engineering, manufacturing and assembly processes, while continuing to generate profits for their shareholders and cashflow to keep their banks happy, is too big a challenge to face alone.”