Hypercars, concept cars and the automotive sector’s latest innovations are on display in Geneva this week, while the EEF is reporting on improving optimism among its members.
Swiss roll-call for automotive in Geneva
This week marks the start of the Geneva Motor Show, where hybrids, hypercars and hatchbacks will mingle with the 130 world and European premiers on display from March 7-17.
British marques expected to cause a frisson of excitement in include Bentley’s new Flying Spur and McLaren’s P1, with the former being described as the ‘best luxury sedan in the world’ and the latter being limited to a production run of 375.
Bentley chairman and chief executive Dr.Wolfgang Schreiber said a significant portion of the Flying Spur has been re-designed and re-engineered, leading to what is claimed to be a 14 per cent improvement in the power-to-weight ratio over the outgoing model, helping to deliver 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 200mph.
The McLaren P1 will deliver an electronically limited top speed of 350km/h to the buyers who have £866,000 to spend on the high-performance hybrid that can be driven by electric motor (with 10km range), 3.8l twin-turbo V8 petrol engine or a combination of the two.
Here are some figures for the speed lovers among you: the P1 can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in under three seconds, zero to 200km/h under seven seconds, and zero to 300km/h in no more than 17 seconds. This, say McLaren, makes the P1 five seconds faster than the late-90s McLaren F1 road car.
A report released today by EEF contains a survey that shows its respondents in bullish mood about improving productivity, adopting new technology and developing manufacturing capacity.
According to EEF, firms have been raising their capital expenditure with half of the 250 companies surveyed increasing investment in the last three years and one in ten reducing it. Investment, they claim, is being made in modern machinery, skills, R&D, marketing and innovation.
The survey highlights, however, that a decade of declining investment has seen pre-recession investment levels fall below that of the UK’s competitors.
‘Since then the recovery in business investment has been slower than our competitors, leaving it still 14 per cent below its 2008 peak,’ say the manufacturer’s organisation.
The report adds that 20 per cent of manufacturers are falling behind their international competitors and a third claim the gap between what they want invest and what they can invest is getting bigger.
In trying to close the gap, manufacturers are facing challenges in accessing finance on the right terms and competition for investment from locations across the globe is increasing; many foreign-owned manufacturers face challenges in getting approval from parent companies.
Ahead of the National Manufacturing Conference tomorrow government is being called upon to provide a ‘an environment that gives industry the certainty and stability it needs to make long-term investments’.
To facilitate this the nation needs: a competitive tax system for all companies investing in the UK; improved access to external finance; an increase in the availability of suitably qualified staff; competitive energy costs; and more support to commercialise technology.
Finally, there’s been a renewed call for entries to the sixth Millennium Technology Prize, awarded by the Technology Academy Finland.
Similar to the £1m Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the winner (or winners) of the Millennium Technology Prize will have developed an innovation that has changed, or has a potential to change, people’s lives for the better.
The innovations must have been applied in practice and are proven to deliver extensive change now and in the future, stimulating further R&D in science and technology.
The prize can be awarded to a single individual or to a team and is open to innovators of all nationalities and to those working in all fields apart from military technology.
Previous winners include Linus Torvalds, who developed Linux, and Dr Shinya Yamanaka, who pioneered non-embryonic stem cell research to develop treatment for illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and spinal injuries.
The closing date for entries is 31 July this year. Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Helsinki in June 2014.