Together with Valencia Engine Plant in Spain, which also restarts production this week, the resumption of production at Dagenham and Bridgend means that all of Ford’s European manufacturing facilities will be back at work.
A limited number of employees have continued to work on company sites in the U.K. over recent weeks to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services. These activities continue to build up on a progressive basis towards more normal business levels. In addition, non-production employees whose roles require specialist equipment only available onsite started to return to work in greater numbers from May 4. Those non-production employees who can work remotely are continuing to do so for the present time.
“As we return to work at our two engine plants in the U.K., our key priority is the implementation of Ford’s global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols to safeguard the well-being of our workforce,” said Graham Hoare, chairman, Ford of Britain.
A comprehensive set of Ford global standards on social distancing and employee health and safety actions – and which exceed the UK Government’s current guidance – are being implemented across Ford’s facilities in the U.K., including but not limited to:
The company also will provide all employees with a personal “care kit”. The care kits include disposable face masks, reusable thermometer and other hygiene items.
Ford will continue to build ventilator sub-assemblies for the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium which is supplying the National Health Service with the much-needed units. The facility used in the assembly of the ventilators is separate from the main engine plant buildings at Dagenham and has no impact on engine production.
Ford also is producing face masks for its U.K. employees and those across its facilities in Europe. By producing face masks for its own use, Ford is helping reduce demand on stretched supply chains for personal protection equipment also needed by medical services such as the National Health Service and other industries.
“The past few months have been an extraordinary period for our business and our country, but throughout the pandemic Ford people have shown the strength of character that truly makes them the Backbone of Britain,” said Graham Hoare.
“From building sub-assemblies for the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium at Dagenham, to manufacturing face masks at our Dunton Campus, and from loaning in excess of 200 vehicles to more than 40 organisations including 10 National Health Service ambulance trusts, to those in our workforce engaged in supporting their communities in a wide range of actions, Ford employees have made a valuable contribution to this country’s fight against Coronavirus.”
In relation to recent press speculation, FCA Italy S.p.A. ("FCA" or "the Company") confirms that it is in talks with the Italian Government (the Ministry of Economy and Finance - MEF, and the Ministry of Economic Development - MISE) to obtain a guarantee from SACE, Italy’s Export Credit Agency (part of the Italian State’s Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A. group), under the recently enacted Liquidity Decree (“Decreto Liquidità”). Discussions have been initiated with Intesa Sanpaolo, Italy’s largest banking group, in relation to a 3-year credit facility dedicated exclusively to financing FCA’s activities in Italy and intended to provide further support to some 10,000 small and medium enterprises in the automotive supply chain in Italy following the reopening of the Company’s Italian plants beginning at the end of April.
Under an innovative mechanism, initially applicable to the automotive supply chain, all disbursements from the credit facility will be managed through dedicated accounts established with Intesa Sanpaolo for the sole purpose of providing operational support for payments to Italian suppliers to support their liquidity and, at the same, supporting the restart of production and investment at Italian plants. Under the Italian government’s Liquidity Decree, the total amount of the credit facility may be equivalent to 25% of the consolidated turnover of FCA’s industrial entities in Italy, or up to €6.3 billion.
This innovative agreement reaffirms the Italian automotive sector’s role in the restart of Italian industry, in relation to which FCA - together with its suppliers and partners – are pivotal. This position will be further strengthened in coming years through the extensive investment plan, already presented and confirmed, as demonstrated by the recent production launches of the new Fiat 500 electric in Turin and the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass plug-in hybrids in Melfi.
Overall, the automotive sector is a key part of the Italian industry: and it is both in terms of relevance and structure. On its own it equates to about 6.2% of the Italian GDP and in terms of employment to about 7% of the entire manufacturing sector.
The Italian automotive ecosystem represents one of the country's recognized strengths worldwide, as well as being one of the largest areas of specialized industrial and commercial know-how in Europe. This sector determines the largest investments in research and innovation in the country, a fundamental basis for guaranteeing future economic competitiveness in an era characterized by rapid technological changes.
The new credit facility forms part of FCA’s broader plan for the safe restart of its Italian operations. This follows an unprecedented period in which rapid measures were taken to protect employees, families and communities during the Covid-19 emergency, and which resulted in a complete suspension of FCA’s industrial and commercial activities in Italy, with the inevitably dramatic short- and medium-term impact on the entire automotive ecosystem.
FCA is Italy’s largest industrial group, directly employing 55,000 people at its 16 plants and 26 dedicated R&D sites. In addition, over 200,000 further jobs at 5,500 highly-specialized Italian suppliers are directly linked to the successful continuity of the Company’s operations. A further 120,000 jobs at 12,000 enterprises of all sizes in the distribution and services sectors also support the Italian automotive industry. In addition, 40% of the €50 billion in annual revenues generated by the Italian automotive components sector is driven by supply to FCA.
The number one priority in FCA’s plan is the health and safety of its employees. With the support of its union partners and experts, the Company has established protocols for its operations that have set a benchmark for a return to the workplace in Italy. Nevertheless, the reopening of FCA’s plants and of the sector as a whole will inevitably be gradual. The objective of the current discussions is to strengthen the financial resilience of the Italian automotive system as a whole, during an inevitably long and challenging period of recovery.
Groupe PSA has created a new set of social distancing and hygiene guidelines for its retail network, demonstrated by videos, ensuring showrooms are ready to open safely to the public as soon as the Government lockdown restrictions lift.
The new protocols are designed to protect both staff and customers and ensure social distancing when showrooms reopen. Since April, Groupe PSA Retailers have been accommodating safe home deliveries, conducted in accordance with official social distancing and hygiene measures.
Under the latest Government guidelines, Groupe PSA Retailers are also now able to facilitate Click & Collect services* for new and used vehicles, with Groupe PSA taking the necessary precautions to guarantee the safety of both its customers and staff.
Ready for when Government are able to lift the restrictions on car showrooms opening, Groupe PSA has created a set of new protocols for its entire retail network, including:
Customer videos have been created for Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles and Vauxhall to explain the measures which will be implemented across their retail networks, so customers are fully prepared for their visit and confident in the protocols being implemented.
David March, Network Development Director of Groupe PSA said: “To ensure the safest possible environment for our customers and staff, we have already made the required changes to our retail network, so we will be ready to safely open our doors when the Government lifts lockdown restrictions. We have taken many of the same hygiene and social distancing rules established at our factories which are set to reopen soon.”
Following the latest Government advice, Vauxhall’s Luton plant will resume production on Monday with extensive measures in place to protect employees. These include staggered start times, one-way walking routes and PPE for all staff on site. The line will also stop every hour for
cleaning with an extra hour between shifts dedicated to cleaning and clearance, to ensure minimal mixing of staff at shift changeovers. All employees will have to record their own temperature twice per day and to have recorded 14-days without issue before being allowed on the premises.
Birth of a revolutionary affordable model
Founded in 1966 in Romania, Dacia, the car manufacturer, has always been linked to Renault: its first model, available only on the local market, was the Renault 8, re-badged as the Dacia 1100 and assembled using parts manufactured in France.
In 1999, Groupe Renault acquired the Romanian manufacturer with a clear vision: to develop Dacia’s expertise and geographical situation to market the cheapest three-box saloon on the market in Eastern Europe, which was then in the midst of reconstruction. A highly ambitious objective that Groupe Renault decided to achieve by breaking the rules.
For the first time in automotive industry, the design was completed at a target cost by applying the “design to cost” method. Innovative at the time, this method turned the logic of traditional design on its head: without compromising on reliability and safety, cost optimization became an imperative at every stage of vehicle design. From start to finish, the final sale price was factored into every technical constraint. Under this strategy, the use of proven and amortized Groupe Renault parts and technologies was a considerable asset. From design to conception and then production, the Dacia project teams operate like a start-up: from scratch, and on a tight budget!
Unveiled in 2004, the Logan kept all of its promises: a record size to spaciousness ratio and essential equipment at an unbeatable retail price. It revolutionized the automobile market by democratizing the new car. With a new purchase price comparable to that of a second-hand car, it was so successful that it was marketed throughout Europe from 2005. Dacia became the benchmark for a new way of consuming cars.
An iconic model, the Dacia Logan is still marketed today with cumulative sales since 2004 totaling 1.8 million units.
A winning trio
Buoyed by the success of the Logan, Dacia extended its range in 2008 with the Sandero and its SUV version, the Sandero Stepway. Combining compactness with a spacious interior, this saloon is versatile enough to meet every challenge.
A new revolution began in 2010 with the release of the Dacia Duster. This model, now a best-seller, has made the SUV segment, hitherto consisting of top of the range models only, far more accessible.
Faithful to the values that Dacia has made its own - record spaciousness, simplicity, robustness and an unbeatable price - both new models are a commercial success.
The Sandero (including the Sandero Stepway) is the car with the highest private sales in 2018, and totals 2.1 million units since its release. Since 2010 1.6 million Dusters have been sold.
Dacia continues to meet the essential needs of its customers with simple, reliable and robust cars, without any excess. It expanded its range with Logan MCV (station wagon) in 2007, then Lodgy (MPV) and Dokker (MPV and van) in 2012.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of its customers, the brand enjoys an active customer community. Dacia is now the 5th brand in terms of private sales in Europe. That’s some road travelled!
Today, Dacia is treating itself to an anniversary edition in a new shade of Iron Blue, which carries the number 15! This crossover series is available in all countries where the brand is marketed, starting at €13,390 including tax (Sandero TCe 90).
Offering the essentials of tomorrow
Customer expectations and the way that we use cars are both changing. Dacia is a modern brand that listens to its customers and is aware of the challenges posed by the mobility of the future.
Responding to the environmental challenges, Dacia is the only manufacturer to offer twin-fuel (petrol/LPG) models across its entire private vehicle range.
Drawing on 10 years of Groupe Renault expertise, the next Dacia revolution will involve affordable electric vehicles. In March 2020, the brand unveiled its Spring electric showcar, its first all-electric model. Moreover, it will be the first city car to bear the Dacia signature! A 5-door vehicle with 4 real seats and a range close to 200 km.
Dacia Spring is proof that Dacia can also promise sustainable mobility accessible to all and remain true to its daring values.
Dacia has been a gamechanger in the car industry for the last 15 years, but its revolutionary activity is far from over!
This gives aspiring designers up to the age of 16 an additional two weeks to create and submit their dream Rolls-Royce of the future.
Launched in early April, the competition has already attracted more than 2,000 entries from children in over 70 countries worldwide. Its original aim was to stimulate design talent and provide a welcome distraction for children from self-isolation and social-distancing measures. Although some countries are starting to ease their lockdown restrictions, many children are still unable to attend school, and their normal interactions and activities are likely to remain curtailed for some weeks to come.
The overall winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime prize: a fully rendered illustration of their design. Runners-up will receive a certificate individually hand-signed by Torsten Müller-Ötvös, the Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
One lucky UK entrant will receive two additional prizes when the UK’s own Coronavirus countermeasures are eased. As well as travelling to school in style in a chauffeur-driven Rolls‑Royce for themselves, their school will be given a new Greenpower electric car kit, allowing them to take part in the UK’s number-one schools motorsport competition, the annual Greenpower Challenge.
Gavin Hartley, Head of Bespoke Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, will be judging the entries together with members of his team. He said, “We’re delighted by the sheer inventiveness, vision and detail we’re seeing in the children’s designs. Some of the ideas are truly extraordinary and have really got us thinking; it’s inspiring us as a design team to see things differently and challenge our own notions of what’s possible. We’re really looking forward to the judging process, but it’s going to be a huge challenge to pick our winners.”
Young designers can share their innovative designs for a future Rolls-Royce at:
Ford is making ventilator sub-assemblies for the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK after transforming an empty warehouse into a manufacturing facility in record time.
Employees worked ceaselessly for three weeks to get the high-tech production line up and running – a feat that would usually take a full year. The facility is part of the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium – a collaboration between leading tech and engineering companies to deliver 15,000 much-needed Penlon Prima ES02 ventilators that the NHS will use for critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“It took many late nights and a lot of hard work, but the ingenuity and commitment of our people has been just remarkable, and it shows how a crisis can bring out the best in us,” said Graham Hoare, chairman, Ford of Britain. “The way they have sacrificed time with family and also been so willing to learn something new to help build these life-saving devices is full testimony to their desire to deliver, and it makes me very proud to be part of this team.”
Converting a warehouse at the company’s Dagenham Engine Plant estate into an ISO9001 accredited facility required the team to repurpose existing equipment and quickly establish a production line for components boxes and 8.4-inch remote display screens that form a key part of the fully assembled units.
3D printing processes were employed to make key components for 200 workstations – which adhere to social distancing requirements – for the Ford volunteers that include operators, product coaches, technicians and engineers from a range of departments. In total, at full production, more than 650 people will be working in three shifts at the facility.
Ford is part of the Consortium Executive that includes Airbus, McLaren, Penlon and Siemens. To collaborate day-to-day with Penlon, located in Oxford, U.K., the Ford team is using HoloLens 2 virtual reality headsets, which enable remote technicians and specialists to view the perspective of the HoloLens wearer on a computer screen and provide real-time guidance and information, seen as holograms in the wearer’s field of view.
“There’s no hierarchy in a time of crisis. People just work together for a common goal. By working closely with Penlon and medical practitioners, we quickly bridged the gap to go from making engines to making ventilators, and together with our partners in the consortium we’re now producing a device by the thousands that’s normally made in small quantities,” said Martin Everitt, plant manager, Dagenham Engine Plant, Ford of Britain.
Ford is also helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with Project Apollo, the company’s global effort to produce personal protection equipment, assist with local and national initiatives, and increase the availability of ventilators and respirators.
Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, recently assisted with the development of a new powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), being produced at the company’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, Michigan, in the US.
For healthcare professionals, the PAPR includes a hood and face shield, while a battery operated ventilator and a high-efficiency filter system provides a supply of 99.97 per cent filtered air for up to eight hours. The engineers who worked on Ford’s Interior Air Advanced Filtration System provided expertise in the filter design and testing to develop the clinical grade filter used in the PAPR.
Ford is also producing protective face masks and shields as part of initiatives to deliver a safe working environment for employees performing essential roles at Ford facilities during the COVID-19 crisis.
Tata Motors plants in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Dharwad (Karnataka), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) and Pune (only for Ambulance Vehicle manufacturing) are in final stage of readiness and expect to begin production over the next few days. This commencement of operations follows receipt of all necessary approvals from relevant Government authorities.
Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors said, “Our utmost priority is the safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and ecosystem partners. Therefore, we restart operations with limited, essential staff in each plant, adhering to all mandated safety norms while efficiently meeting operational requirements. The support and cooperation extended by local authorities, state and central Government, our Union partners and our dedicated workforce have been instrumental for a smooth restart. We will scale operations in a graded manner as the entire enabling ecosystem of suppliers, vendors, dealers and customers comes up to speed. We are cautiously optimistic and staying agile to cater to an evolving demand.”
“The lockdown was our opportunity to accelerate our digital journey and evolve new ways of working, while servicing and supporting our customers. We are well positioned to redefine mobility with our new product portfolio, customised offerings and enhanced customer experience.,” he added.
Dedicated ‘Restart’ teams at each location have curated detailed guidelines and conducted intensive trainings for maintaining social distancing at all workplaces, shop floors and canteen facilities. Enhanced sanitisation measures are being implemented and only limited, operationally required staff is being asked to come to work in personal vehicles or company transport.
Every employee re-joining the workplace is required to download and use the mandatory ‘Aarogya Setu’ app. Employees are also required to periodically check-in and declare the status of their own, as well as their family’s health on the Tata Motors in-house health track portal. In addition, all employees and visitors entering and exiting the plant premises are also being screened for temperature checks.
Tata Motors has used the lockdown time to design new ways of working, respecting the mandatory safety norms and aggressively adopting digital. Via rigorous sessions conducted virtually, employees, dealers and supplier partners were oriented to this and trained on the feature-rich BSVI offerings for effectively selling and engaging with customers.
Nearly 200 dealerships and 300 workshops for passenger vehicles and over 400 sales outlets and 885 workshops for commercial vehicles have begun operations with a new set of standard operating procedure (SOPs) defining minimal interactions and maintaining prudent social distance while engaging with customers. Over the last few days, customers have initiated new bookings, deliveries of passenger vehicles have commenced and workshops are seeing increasing inflow of vehicles for servicing.
All discussions with customers are being done virtually using digital tools and any meetings, if necessary, are being conducted with prior appointments and post verification of all requirements. Documents for vehicle insurance and registration are being collected via mail or specially installed drop boxes and vehicle deliveries are being done only after all formalities are completed. Customer vehicles arriving at workshops for repairs and servicing too are completely sanitised before being handed over post service.
Test drives are being offered on request and with prior appointment at customer’s preferred location. Only one person drives the vehicle with a dealer staff member sitting in the rear seat to avoid any physical contact. Following every test drive, the vehicle is fully sanitised including replacing protective covers shielding the interiors of the vehicle that come in contact while driving.
To enhance peace of mind for its discerning passenger vehicle customers, Tata Motors has recently launched ‘Click to drive’, an end-to-end online platform to select and buy cars. From the comfort of their homes, customers can log in, select the vehicle of their choice, avail a test drive and choose from variety of financing options to book their preferred car and SUV. This platform is integrated with all dealers who arrange for the delivery of the vehicle nationwide.
For its commercial vehicle customers, Tata Motors extended all possible technical support to keep vehicles running during the lockdown. Additionally, timelines of vehicle warranty, free services and Tata Suraksha AMC have also been extended.
Together with Valencia Engine Plant in Spain, which also restarts production next week, the resumption of production at Dagenham and Bridgend means that all of Ford’s European manufacturing facilities will be back at work.
A limited number of employees have continued to work on company sites in the UK over recent weeks to ensure the ongoing provision of critical services. These activities continue to build up on a progressive basis towards more normal business levels. In addition, nonproduction employees whose roles require specialist equipment only available onsite started to return to work in greater numbers from May 4. Those non-production employees who can work remotely are continuing to do so for the present time.
“As we return to work at our two engine plants in the UK, our key priority is the implementation of Ford’s global standards on social distancing and strengthened health and safety protocols to safeguard the well-being of our workforce,” said Graham Hoare, Chairman, Ford of Britain.
A comprehensive set of Ford global standards on social distancing and employee health and safety actions – and which exceed the UK Government’s current guidance – are being implemented across Ford’s facilities in the UK, including but not limited to requiring anyone entering a Ford facility to use a company-provided face mask, and a face shield in select manufacturing positions and other positions where social distancing cannot be met.
All persons entering a Ford facility will be required to have their body temperature checked on entry with scanning equipment that meets any local or national regulations and restrictions. The automaker undertake a daily, wellness self-assessment process to confirm employee fitness and readiness for work before entering a Ford facility.
Ford is redesigning of work areas to ensure social distancing guidelines are maintained and phased return to work to reduce employee density in buildings and on production lines. The company also will provide all employees with a personal “care kit”. The care kits include disposable face masks, reusable thermometer and other hygiene items.
Ford will continue to build ventilator sub-assemblies for the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium which is supplying the National Health Service with the much-needed units. The facility used in the assembly of the ventilators is separate from the main engine plant buildings at Dagenham and has no impact on engine production.
Ford also is producing face masks for its UK employees and those across its facilities in Europe. By producing face masks for its own use, Ford is helping reduce demand on stretched supply chains for personal protection equipment also needed by medical services such as the National Health Service and other industries.
“The past few months have been an extraordinary period for our business and our country, but throughout the pandemic Ford people have shown the strength of character that truly makes them the Backbone of Britain,” said Graham Hoare. “From building sub-assemblies for the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium at Dagenham, to manufacturing face masks at our Dunton Campus, and from loaning in excess of 200 vehicles to more than 40 organisations including 10 National Health Service ambulance trusts, to those in our workforce engaged in supporting their communities in a wide range of actions, Ford employees have made a valuable contribution to this country’s fight against Coronavirus.”
With typical precision, the engineers have been putting the finishing touches to the next-generation bestseller. They are currently setting up the new Mokka for optimum acoustic comfort in the interior, excellent driving safety at high speeds and Vauxhall-typical steering and pedal feel. Since February, the Vauxhall experts for chassis, powertrain, electronics and lighting have been using the Arctic winter for the tuning of chassis and assistance systems on frozen lakes and narrow country roads in Swedish Lapland.
The next Vauxhall Mokka generation is a completely new design based on the company's highly efficient CMP multi-energy platform (Common Modular Platform). This modular platform offers maximum flexibility in vehicle development. The CMP also allows the use of purely battery-electric drive as well as internal combustion engines. The customer has the choice. Thanks to the use of high-strength steels, the vehicle weight is low and the body stability is high. The new Mokka weighs up to 120 kilograms less than the previous model – with almost the same wheelbase and tyre sizes. With the electric Mokka-e, the batteries are installed deep in the vehicle floor, which lowers the centre of gravity and at the same time increases torsional rigidity by a further 30 per cent – excellent prerequisites for dynamic driving. Customers can look forward to a very agile second-generation Mokka, which will be available in dealerships from early 2021. Until then, the testing continues at full speed.
Phase 1: testing and fine-tuning at Arctic Circle
Engineer Gunnar Nees never tires of turning lap after lap on ice. He regularly stops for few minutes, reaches for the laptop, reads out measured values, and logs every mile covered. In the vast Arctic wilderness, it is still freezing cold in March. Exactly the right conditions for orchestrating the harmony between ABS, ESP, assistance systems and the rest of the new Vauxhall Mokka’s chassis.
The development cars are still hiding behind a green and black camouflage, with 3D-like graphics that blur the vehicle’s contours. The engineer behind the steering wheel has come to the far north to set up the chassis. Like every Vauxhall, the new Mokka must respond precisely to steering inputs and give good feedback, be comfortable and at the same time have a firm enough ride. A Vauxhall must not display uncontrolled body movements, for example, when the vehicle is driving over a large bump at medium speed. The Vauxhall philosophy calls for safe and relaxing driving on the motorway. A Vauxhall must remain easily controllable in all situations and be fun to drive at the same time.
These characteristics must be present under all weather conditions everywhere – at the icy Arctic Circle as well as in high summer at the Mediterranean. However, nothing should change in terms of precise handling and consistently good-natured driving behaviour. Parts, components and systems are continuously fine-tuned by the Vauxhall engineers: dampers, springs, steering. In addition, the control software is adapted: for ideal pedal feel when accelerating and braking, for the right amount of steering power assistance and for the interaction between all assistance systems.
Phase 2: high-speed driving on German test tracks
Back in Germany: the same test engineer pilots the Mokka-prototype on home ground at the Rodgau-Dudenhofen Test Center. Karsten Bohle, the project coordinator for the second-generation Mokka, joins Gunnar Nees.
“We are all looking forward to seeing the new Mokka on the road in customer’s hands. The test drives are running like clockwork, also because our new baby, with its low weight and compact external dimensions, reacts well to adjustments. Handling and comfort are super. The Mokka is a joy to drive,” said Bohle, “the development work has been great fun.”
The new Mokka is ready to take its final exams at the Test Center. While shaken, ride comfort and interior acoustics must remain unstirred – not even by the torture track. Here, not far from the Opel-Vauxhall base in Rüsselsheim, the tracks are replicas of the trickiest road surfaces in Europe. Vauxhall engineers have tested here for decades and built up a huge wealth of experience. The engineers repeatedly adjust springs and dampers, the balance between responsiveness and sporty precision continuously improved. The new Mokka features particularly low road noise for optimum acoustic comfort, which the high-quality materials in the interior further increase. Squeaks and rattles are taboo.
The steering and suspension get their Vauxhall “feel” on the Dudenhofen handling course. Two tie rods at the McPherson strut turrets are standard equipment; they provide further stiffness at the front end, adding a touch more precision and agility. The new Mokka turns into corners eagerly, is easy to handle at the limit and the assistance systems function perfectly. Then comes the ultimate discipline – the high-speed oval with its steep banking, followed by the long straight. This test demands rock-solid stability at all speeds. In real life, it also results in a huge safety benefit when taking avoidance manoeuvres at lower speeds. The Vauxhall engineers only award their seal of approval for the autobahn when they return satisfied from the high-speed oval. The new Vauxhall Mokka has already passed this test with flying colours. However, testing, testing and yet more testing will continue until the summer. When the Mokka has achieved production readiness, cars will start rolling off the assembly line at the end of the year.
The design used for this prototype is taken from the Maserati Eldorado, the iconic single-seater driven on its debut in Monza in 1958 by Stirling Moss himself, at the “Trofeo dei due Mondi”.
It is very fitting that the Trident Brand has chosen the date of 13 May to recall the great British driver, since there is no doubt that his victory in the Monaco F1 Grand Prix on 13 May 1956, at the wheel of the Maserati 250F, stands out amongst the many trophies in the champion's collection. It was an amazing win, since Moss led the race from the first to the last of the 100 laps around the winding, demanding Monaco circuit. Maserati's day of triumph was completed by taking third place as well – also in a 250F - by French driver Jean Behra.
Moss, who recorded 16 victories in 66 starts in Formula 1 Grand Prix racing, is one of the most successful drivers never to have won the world title. Sir Stirling came within a whisker of the crown on more than one occasion, finishing in second place on four occasions, and third in three championships. For this reason, he was known as the "king without a crown". In the 1956 season and some 1957 races, Moss drove a Maserati 250F (“his favourite”, as he often recalled), beaten only by Juan Manuel Fangio. Moreover, Moss's Argentinian rival took his 1957 title at the wheel of another 250F, confirming the reliability and superiority of the Modena-built car.
Through this MC20 prototype with Stirling Moss's "signature", Maserati wishes to commemorate one of the greatest names in the annals of world motorsports, who wrote some of the finest pages in its own racing history. The list of Maserati cars driven by the British driver also includes the Tipo 60 Birdcage, Tipo 61 and 300 S.
The choice of a prototype of the MC20 to dedicate to Sir Stirling is no coincidence: through this model, the Trident Brand aims to underline its sporting vocation, and above all return to a leading role on the racing circuits, after the latest world championship won in 2010 with another extraordinary car, the MC12.
The arrival of the MC20 is an important event for the Modena-based company, not only because of the racing comeback, but also because it will be the first car to adopt a new engine 100% designed, developed and produced by Maserati itself.
Sir Stirling Moss would certainly have liked the new MC20: a car that fully embodies Maserati's truest values in terms of the performance, driving pleasure and innovative contents superlatively expressed in all Trident Brand models.
During the first quarter of 2020, the number of diesel cars registered across the European Union plummeted by 32.6% to 738,392. Diesel now holds a market share of 29.9% (down from 33.2% for the first quarter of 2019). All the markets in the region went into decline, notably the four largest ones: Italy (49.8%), France (36.6%), Spain (33.8%) and Germany (23.0%).
With the vast majority of European dealerships closed in March as a result of the containment measures, demand for petrol cars also plummeted. Petrol sales contracted by 32.2%, from almost 2 million units last year to 1.3 million in Q1 2020. With the exception of Cyprus and Lithuania, all EU markets have faced double-digit drops so far this year.
From January to March 2020, electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECV) substantially benefited from the decline in diesel and petrol demand. ECV sales more than doubled (100.7%) in the first three months of the year, totalling 167,132 cars registered across the EU. Both the battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) segments provided a strong boost to this growth (68.4 and 161.7% respectively).
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) remained the best-sellers of the alternatively-powered vehicle segment, representing 9.4% of the total EU car market. 232,525 units were registered during the first quarter of the year (45.1% compared to 2019).
Alternative fuels – which include those vehicles running on ethanol (E85), liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas (NGV) – had mixed performances. Demand for NGV cars strongly increased (68.5%), while LPG registrations halved due to the contraction in the Italian market. Growth in the natural gas segment did not offset the drop in LPG, resulting in an overall decline of 30.4%
The four major markets all posted growth in total APV registrations from January to March this year. Germany and France stood out with demand increasing by 74.9% and 71.7% respectively, boosted by the outstanding performance of the plug-in hybrid segment.
Michael Oeljeklaus, Škoda Auto Board Member for Production and Logistics, stressed, “As a car manufacturer, we have a particular responsibility to set a good example in terms of sustainability. Accordingly, we are consistently implementing our ‘GreenFuture’ strategy and have reached the next milestone in the ‘GreenFactory’ sub-section: we are now recycling 100% of all waste generated during vehicle production. This is an important step towards even greater, all-embracing recycling efforts and a clear commitment to strengthening the circular economy.”
The company is also pursuing an eco-friendly approach to waste disposal even if conventional methods would be more economical. To name just one example, the carmaker recovers the material for numerous high-quality plastic parts from recycled waste. Whenever waste is recycled thermally, Škoda ensures that the energy released during incineration is used to generate electricity or heat.
Škoda Auto believes in sophisticated recycling measures and collaboration with the Czech Institute for Circular Economy. In particular, however, the car manufacturer is focusing on avoiding producing any waste from the outset. The new paint shop at the Mladá Boleslav plant, for example, uses approximately 210 g less solvent per car, and requires 17% less clear coat than conventional systems. In addition, no paint sludge accumulates as a waste product and the new exhaust air decontamination system reduces the amount of paint residue created per car body by more than 2 kg.
The car manufacturer has not sent its municipal waste to landfills since back in 2016, and has instead had this type of waste incinerated. In 2018, the company started processing several types of sludge residue in the same way too. Since the beginning of 2020, Škoda has also stopped using landfill sites for its commercial waste.
The Škoda Academy is equally committed to environmental protection and the responsible use of natural resources: the C6000 thinner used in technical training can be cleaned using simple distillation, allowing 90 per cent of it to be reused.
Škoda combines its environmental activities in the ‘GreenFuture’ strategy, which is based on three pillars: ‘GreenProduct’ deals with the development of vehicles that are as eco-friendly as possible – in terms of fuel consumption as well as the materials used and their recyclability. With ‘GreenRetail’, the manufacturer is promoting eco-friendly operations at its dealerships and workshops. ‘GreenFactory’ְ brings together all of the activities that help to conserve resources during production.
Key performance indicators such as energy and water consumption or the amount of waste generated per vehicle are precisely monitored and continuously further optimised. The same applies to CO2 emissions and socalled volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are produced when the car bodies are painted, for example.
The Czech car manufacturer is set to consistently pursue this course over the coming years: by the second half of this decade, the plants’ energy consumption for vehicle and component production will be CO2-neutral.
The drive towards zero-emission mobility at Audi continues apace. At the end of this year, the Vorsprung durch Technik brand will put its third all-electric model, the e-tron GT, into production. In addition, there will shortly be a raft of new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – the A7 Sportback TFSI e quattro, Q7 TFSI e quattro, A8 TFSI e quattro and, later in the year, the A6 TFSI e quattro – arriving in the UK to join the acclaimed Q5 TFSI e quattro (which was launched in 2019).
The TFSI e badge identifies these models: TFSI refers to the turbocharged petrol engine, while the 'e' denotes the electric motor that supports the petrol engine and can also power the car in pure electric mode. The electric motor is driven by a lightweight, compact and highly efficient lithium-ion battery hidden under the boot floor, which drivers can recharge by plugging in at home, at work or at a roadside charging point.
Elegant and efficient
PHEVs are often regarded as a relatively recent addition to the motoring landscape, but in fact Audi built its first petrol-electric hybrid car more than 30 years ago. The Audi Duo experimental vehicle was created in 1989, and starred at the following year’s Geneva Motor Show. Based on the elegant 100 Avant, the Duo's 2.3-litre, five-cylinder petrol engine sent 136PS to the front wheels. At the same time, a nickel-cadmium battery mounted underneath the boot floor powered a 9kW (12.6PS) Siemens electric motor that drove the rear axle. Audi also experimented with a solar-panel roof for the vehicle, to help charge the batteries on sunny days.
Hybrid technology has been enhanced beyond all recognition since then, thanks to the rapid advancements made in efficiency, power and refinement. Models such as the ultra-efficient Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro clearly illustrate this remarkable progress. In the blink of an eye, the car switches automatically – and seamlessly – between electric and petrol driving modes to ensure optimum performance.
Things weren’t quite so simple for the Duo Audi driver, though, who had to put the transmission into neutral and press the ‘E’ button on the dashboard to engage electric mode and access an electric driving range of up to 24 miles.
The ample torque produced by the Duo’s electric motor meant that the car could reach 31mph before the petrol engine needed to take over. In slippery conditions, where all-wheel drive was required to pull away, both power sources worked in tandem. And, despite being built some three decades ago, the Duo included a regenerative braking system, with kinetic energy utilised to charge the battery pack when the brakes were applied.
Created using a completely standard 100 Avant, the Duo also benefited from the production car's aerodynamic fastback-style body, resulting in an incredibly low aerodynamic drag coefficient that helped the vehicle cut through the air more effectively.
Today, Audi PHEVs such as the A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro, offer three driving modes. Hybrid mode – which is the default when route guidance is active – enables the system to select the most efficient solution automatically, be that fully electric, petrol power on its own, or a combination of both. In EV (Electric Vehicle) mode, the car relies purely on electric power unless the accelerator is pressed purposefully, in which case the engine instantly fires back into life. Finally, in Battery Hold mode, the battery charge is preserved at its existing level.
Despite its clear focus on efficiency, the Audi A7 Sportback 55 TFSI e quattro also delivers impressive performance. When the TFSI engine and the electric motor work in tandem, the system produces 367PS and 500Nm of pulling power, the latter available at the merest touch to the throttle at just 1250rpm. With power transferred to the road through a smooth-changing, double-clutch seven-speed S tronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive, the hybrid A7 is capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds and reaching 155mph where legally permissible. In electric-only mode, it can travel for more than 24.9 miles and reach speeds of up to 83.9mph.
Intelligent route management
Technology such as predictive efficiency assist (PEA) and predictive operating strategy (PBS) ensure optimum use of the battery’s charge. Different aspects of the journey, including roundabouts, hills, speed limits and traffic further along the route ahead, are taken into account to ensure the correct driving mode for each situation. This enables the final urban stretch of a chosen course to be driven electrically, during which the car produces no emissions.
Recharging the battery in an Audi plug-in hybrid is an effortless procedure. All TFSI e models have two 'fuel filler' flaps, one on each side of the car. The one on the right is for petrol, while the one on the left houses the connector for the electric charging cable. Using a connection with an output of 7.4kW, such as a home wall box or a roadside charger in town, the charging time takes two-and-a-half hours. Using the myAudi smartphone app, drivers can check the battery and range status remotely, as well as starting and monitoring the charging process.
Paving the way
Back in 1989, only ten examples of the original Duo were built. The cars were trialled in pilot programmes – including use as a taxi in the historic centre of Ingolstadt – but were never put into full production. This immaculate example now enjoys a quiet life in the Audi Museum.
However, Audi continued to explore hybrid technology, and a second version of the Duo based on the Audi 100 Avant arrived in 1991.
Six years after that, Audi became the first European car manufacturer to introduce a limited-edition production PHEV. Also named Duo, it was based on an A4 Avant. It featured a drivetrain incorporating a 90PS 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine and a 29PS water-cooled electric motor, powered by a lead gelatin battery mounted in the rear of the car. Both the engine and the electric motor were used to power the front wheels.
As with the earlier Audi hybrid studies, the production Duo featured plug-in charging, and its electric motor could also recuperate energy during deceleration. In electric mode, the A4 Avant Duo could reach 50mph, and 106mph using TDI power. Ultimately the car proved to be too far ahead of its time, and the market wasn’t ready for it. However, the hybrid technologies that were advanced during the creation of the Duo models has enabled the latest generation of Audi PHEVs to deliver significant efficiency gains, impressive performance and effortless, relaxing driving to customers today.
Richard Hill is a highly experienced senior engineer who has guided this critical element of the 2,000 PS car’s design, details the philosophy of the Evija’s sophisticated aerodynamics.
Richard is chief aerodynamicist and has worked at Lotus for more than 30 years, supporting countless road and race car projects. When asked how the Evija compares to regular sports cars, he replied: “It’s like comparing a fighter jet to a child’s kite.’’
The full Q&A with Richard Hill is below:
- What’s the overall philosophy behind the Evija’s aerodynamics? It’s about keeping the airflow low and flat at the front and guiding it through the body to emerge high at the rear. Put simply, it transforms the whole car into an inverted wing to produce that all-important dynamic downforce.
- How would you compare the Evija’s aerodynamic performance to that of a regular sports car? It’s like comparing a fighter jet to a child’s kite.’’
- Can you explain the car’s porosity in aerodynamic terms? Most cars have to punch a hole in the air, to get through using brute force, but the Evija is unique because of its porosity. The car literally ‘breathes’ the air. The front acts like a mouth; it ingests the air, sucks every kilogram of value from it – in this case, the downforce – then exhales it through that dramatic rear end.
- What role does that deep front splitter play? It’s designed in three sections; the larger central area provides air to cool the battery pack – which is mid-mounted behind the two seats – while the air channeled through the two smaller outer sections cools the front e-axle. The splitter minimises the amount of air allowed under the vehicle, thus reducing drag and lift on the underbody. It also provides something for the difference in pressure between the upper and lower splitter surfaces to push down on, so generating downforce.’
- Are the Venturi tunnels through the rear quarters part of the porosity? Yes, they feed the wake rearward to help cut drag. Think of it this way; without them the Evija would be like a parachute but with them it’s a butterfly net, and they make the car unique in the hypercar world.
- What is the effect of the Evija’s active aerodynamics? The rear wing elevates from its resting position flush to the upper bodywork. It’s deployed into ‘clean’ air above the Evija, creating further downforce at the rear wheels. The car also has an F1-style Drag Reduction System (DRS), which is a horizontal plane mounted centrally at the rear, and deploying it make the car faster.
- Lotus pioneered the full carbon fibre chassis in Formula 1, and the Evija is the first Lotus road car to use that technology. How has that helped to guide the aerodynamics? The chassis a single piece of moulded carbon fibre for exceptional strength, rigidity and safety. The underside is sculpted to force the airflow through the rear diffuser and into the Evija’s wake, causing an ‘upwash’ and the car’s phenomenal level of downforce.
- The Evija is set to be the world’s lightest EV hypercar. Does weight affect aerodynamic performance? The car’s weight has no effect on overall aerodynamics. However, the lighter the car, the larger the percentage of overall grip is achieved through downforce and the lower the inertia of the car to change direction.
- Can you confirm the drag coefficient and downforce figures for Evija? We will release that data later this year when final testing is complete.
Richard Hill’s full title is Chief Engineer of Aerodynamics and Thermal Management, and he has worked at the company’s Hethel HQ since 1986. His role involves collaborating with the exterior designers of all new Lotus vehicles, from the early concept phase of a programme through to testing pre-production prototypes. The focus is always on developing the aerodynamic performance which ultimately helps produce the world-class dynamic characteristics for which Lotus is renowned. Richard also helps to ensure all vehicle cooling, cabin ventilation and thermal management systems work correctly.
As well as working on road and race cars, Richard was the brains behind the Lotus Type 108 and Type 110 – better known as the Lotus Sport track and road bikes ridden to glory in the 1990s by legendary British Olympic and Tour de France cyclist Chris Boardman. He has also been instrumental in the development of the new track bike developed by Lotus for British Cycling athletes who will compete in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
The Company has developed and is implementing a comprehensive program of enhanced safety measures to protect employees, their families and the surrounding communities from the spread and transmission of COVID-19 when the plants reopen.
“Above everything else, our top priority has always been to do what is right for our employees,” Mike Manley, FCA CEO, said. “We have worked closely with the unions to establish protocols that will ensure our employees feel safe at work and that every step possible has been taken to protect them.
“We have drawn on our collective global expertise and best practices to rethink our production processes to put in place comprehensive protocols to keep our workforce safe,” Manley said. “There is no question that coming to work will look and feel different. I have now visited several of our Detroit-area facilities, met with our teams and walked the floor. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank all of our colleagues who have done an incredible job putting in place safety protocols to protect our people. Thank you all.”
Since closing its plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico on March 18, FCA has been working to put in place best practices that have enabled the restart of operations at its facilities in China and Italy. Aligned with World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations, these robust protocols, along with the actions employees will be required to take to safeguard themselves and others, were communicated as part of a Return to Work package mailed to nearly 47,000 U.S. and Canadian represented employees. Mexico will share the same information through in-person training.
FCA is implementing layers of protection to combat the spread and transmission of COVID-19. This includes cleaning, disinfecting and social distancing, but most importantly, ensuring the wellness of everyone entering an FCA facility. With that in mind, the Company will require its employees, as well as all visitors, to complete a Daily Health Risk Assessment, which consists of:
As an added measure of safety, the Company is installing thermal imaging cameras to verify what employees and visitors have self-reported.
Consistent with the direction of governmental agencies, employees will be required to wear Company-provided masks and safety glasses at all times when in the facility. Employees will also be asked to wear gloves and safety glasses when applying or cleaning with disinfectant spray. Visitors and contractors to any FCA facility will be required to provide their own personal protection equipment for entry.
During the production pause, FCA completed a significant number of cleaning and social distancing activities to prepare its facilities for when operations resume. These include:
Upon the restart of production, FCA is adopting a new level of daily cleaning and disinfecting, in accordance with WHO, CDC and OSHA recommendations, at all manufacturing locations in order to maintain the enhanced levels of cleanliness and sanitation. In addition to increasing the number of times per shift that high-traffic, high-use areas, as well as common touchpoints, are cleaned and disinfected, 10 minutes per shift will be dedicated to cleaning and disinfecting employee workstations.
Signage promoting the themes of health and safety have been posted throughout all facilities to remind employees and visitors of proper protocols related to cleaning, social distancing, required personal protection equipment and handwashing or sanitizing. Employees also will participate in small-group training sessions on the new policies and procedures as part of their first-day activities.
“We have taken a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach to mitigating the spread of this virus by implementing lots of layers of protection,” Scott Garberding, FCA's Global Chief Manufacturing Officer, said. “You are a key part of successfully resuming operations. In this new environment, we all need to take responsibility for our own safety and that of the people around us. An effective start-up will require detailed understanding, teaching, coaching and patience from all of us.”
FCA will continue to monitor and audit conditions at all facilities, as well as the latest information on COVID-19 from federal and state agencies, to implement new safeguards and procedures as needed.
This represents the next stage in Bentley’s ‘Come Back Stronger’ programme, a phased production ramp up following the biggest changes to daily working life in the company’s 100-year history.
Before the restart, last week, employees received an insight into their new working patterns, operations and environment during socially distanced briefing and training sessions. They returned to a redesigned manufacturing facility that allows two-metre distance between workers, and one-way movement paths and traffic flows. Even the washrooms across site have been reconfigured to reduce the number of people being able to use them.
The beginning of Bentayga and Mulsanne production lines will be joined by the return of the Continental GT and Flying Spur line next week. On each line, production will be running at approximately 50% for a number of weeks as the takt time of each car - the average start time from one manufacturing stage to the next - has doubled. In addition, each production cell now spreads over two stages rather than one, ensuring adequate distance between colleagues.
The remaining manufacturing workers, over 500, are anticipated to return by the middle of June based on current assumptions and government guidance. All employees, during the shutdown, or returning later, have been keep fully updated with the changes through a home-issued guide, video tutorial and a newly created Employee News app designed to ease any uncertainty that this challenging period prompts.
Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and CEO, Bentley Motors, said: “Now is the right time for the business to come back stronger. We have introduced extensive new working measures to protect our colleagues, our families and our customers and we are confident, following the work of so many people, that being at Bentley will be as safe for our colleagues as being anywhere else.”
“We have a strong order bank, around eight months of customer orders to manufacture, established parts supply routes and patient customers who are looking to receive their extraordinary cars as soon as possible. We will ramp up in a controlled, measured way to ensure we manage this continued demand, and look ahead and in spite of this interruption continue on our journey to lead sustainable luxury mobility in the future,” he added.
The key process changes behind the ‘Come Back Stronger’ employee programme impact all areas. Facemasks are now compulsory in all factory and office areas, while Bentley will maintain a work from home policy for those who are able to.
The robust measures will ensure Bentley staff stay as safe as possible at all times. Personal protection equipment – including facemasks, gloves, goggles - are provided as necessary, both to colleagues and in parallel donated to the local care sector, as well as health temperature checks for staff. There is also an enhanced cleaning routine and clear guidance to the workforce on limiting the risk of infection on areas such as meeting governance, site access and travel.
In relevant office areas and catering facilities where distancing is more challenging, plastic partitions - designed and manufactured by Bentley workers – now offer segregation between colleagues in addition to control measures limiting capacity, staggered times and distanced seating.
There are also new, stringent measures to control the population density on site at any one time with all entry and exit points reviewed and reconfigured to disperse the volume of people.