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Battle for vehicle tech intensifies as digital giants wade into market

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Europe was the most active autotech M&A market in 2018 with 39% of deal activity, ahead of North America and APAC, yet accounted for only 7% of total global M&A transaction value.

The latest research from GP Bullhound reveals M&A activity in autotech across Europe, Asia and North America has steadily increased in the last few years, reaching a record 166 transactions in 2018, up from 144 the previous year.

Though Europe is the most active market worldwide for M&A transactions, Asia Pacific and North America lead in terms of deal value – with 72% and 21%, respectively.

The total global autotech fundraising value increased by 293% to €27bn over the past five years,

Sven Raeymaekers, Partner at GP Bullhound, said: “Europe’s autotech sector has been growing from strength to strength in the last few years, and the figures in our report attest to significant innovation and investment across the continent. The next challenge for Europe’s autotech firms will be to achieve scale in order to compete with the biggest players in the industry. The difficulty so far is that European autotech companies struggle to get the same level of funding as their competitors in APAC and North America.”

The report also reveals that technology giants such as Google, Intel, Tesla and Uber are challenging established automotive firms when it comes to innovation in autonomous driving, connected cars, electric vehicles, and shared mobility solutions.

With Tesla on track to outsell both BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the US and several global automakers issuing recent profit warnings, GP Bullhound says the automotive industry is facing unprecedented disruption from emerging and established technology firms keen for a slice of the action.

Guillaume Bonneton, Partner at GP Bullhound, added: “A battle is emerging between global tech giants and the traditional automobile manufacturers. The tech giants have an advantage in terms of total resources available, but do not rule out the OEMs as they are pouring significant levels of investment into the four key sectors highlighted in our report. Combined with the existing levels of trust they have from consumers, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”

The report considers four key trends set to significantly reshape the automotive sector over the next ten to fifteen years: shared mobility, electrification, autonomy and connectivity.

Autonomy looks set to catch up to shared mobility as the most disruptive sector with the greatest increase in transaction value from €0.2bn in 2014, to €8bn in 2018 and an average transaction value of €70m, just below level of shared mobility on €75m which has dominated since 2014. This came as shared mobility declined from €17bn in 2017, to €8bn last year.

Looking ahead, the report identifies micro-mobility – bike, scooter and mopeds-sharing– as a fast-growth area, with deal activity in bike-scooter sharing increasing from $14m in 2015 to $3.5bn by the end of 2018.

Confusion over laws & regulation impacting EV adoption

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Confusion around regulations on electric car adoption is actually preventing environmentally friendly vehicles from taking off in the UK.

According to research from YouGov Custom, only 2% of households currently own a hybrid car, with only 1% owning an electric.

Laws that will eventually ban diesel and petrol cars are slowly being introduced around the world, however the report says a lack of financial incentives and limited choice is also preventing growth within the electric/hybrid market.

41% of those polled admitted that they were “somewhat likely” to buy a hybrid car next, while only 19% said the same about purchasing an electric vehicle.

The YouGov research found that there were three main barriers preventing people form purchasing environmentally friendly automobiles: confusion surrounding financial benefits; incentives not being attractive enough; and a lack of choice.

Almost three-quarters (74%) said that the initial cost of the car discouraged them from purchasing a vehicle, along with 52% that were put off by the expense of charging the vehicle at home.

Changes to legislation back in October 2018, which scrapped grants for new plug-in hybrids and reduced discounts on electric cars also added to car owners concerns. A third (36%) of the total population say they’re less likely to consider a hybrid/electric vehicle for their next purchase and this rises to four in ten (40%) among petrol and diesel owners.

Finally, the lack of choice has done nothing to help elevate sales here in the UK. Ford currently has 13% share of the market, along with Vauxhall with 10%. However, only 4% or 1% would consider either a hybrid/electric car from either manufacturer respectively.

One car manufacturer who is embracing the hybrid/electric car market is Toyota, who already have seven models available. 7% of those polled considered the manufacturer when choosing an electric vehicle, which happens to be the same percentage of existing drivers who currently own a model by the Japanese brand.

‘Major re-think’ needed on EV infrastructure

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Social divides in communities could be deepened with millions of people set to miss out on the environmental and financial benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), a new report concludes.

The Localis report – Smart Cities: Fair investment for sustainable growth– argues that outdated energy and infrastructure policies must urgently be modernised, and local network operators freed up to invest ahead of demand, if the government is to meet its ambitious targets for ensuring all new cars sold are zero-emission by 2040.

The report calls on government to devolve certain Ofgem powers to city regions and strategic authorities, allowing them to develop their own ‘smart city’ plans and energy policies built upon their own expertise and understanding of place.

Local authorities should be able to form their own consortiums using existing knowledge of their local areas, and also be empowered to work with private energy network providers to deliver the infrastructure they need for the future, the report recommended.

The report emphasised that families across the UK are at risk of sharing the cost for necessary new energy infrastructure, but not being able to access for themselves the benefits of EVs and other ‘smart’ technologies – driving further inequality between richer and poorer parts of the country.

Jonathan Werran, chief executive at Localis, said: “Without a change in regulation, behaviour and a wholesale transfer of powers for local energy policies, we risk a tale of two cities in our major urban centres – deepening levels of inequality between the prosperous and more deprived parts of town.

“A ‘devolution revolution’ in locally-regulated energy markets has the potential to accelerate the nation’s switch to clean growth, turn UK cities into powerhouses for sustainable and inclusive prosperity and improve livelihoods in towns and cities across the UK.”

Furthermore – while private energy network providers have invested heavily in building infrastructure that is fit for purpose today – the report claims their inability to invest further unless there is proven need for it presents a major barrier to readying cities for smart technologies.

This restriction should be lifted if the UK’s energy network is to be fit for meeting future demand for smart technologies such as EVs – which will require a six-fold increase in the number of charging points by 2020 (Emu Analytics, May 2018).

The report authors also recommend that government should produce a standardised framework for how EV charging infrastructure is built and upgraded.

Localis head of data research, Joe Fyans, said: “The advancement of smart technology into households has huge potential for increasing the quality and efficiency of local public policy, but we have to make sure we have the nuts and bolts infrastructure in place to facilitate this change by securing the appropriate investment, and in a timely fashion.”

The report and its recommendations were informed by a series of roundtable events with local authorities, councillors and business groups.

George Lowder, chief executive, Transport for Edinburgh, said: “We’ll be taking note of the findings of this report here in Edinburgh, which is particularly timely as we consider city centre transformation, Low Emission Zones, future mobility and city development in 2019.

“A cleaner, smarter, Edinburgh is one that we are all striving for – including the increased use of EVs across our public transport fleets and an extended EV charging network for the city. The recommendations in the report today can help us to deliver this in a way that works for everyone.’’

Cllr Anna Richardson’s, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, Glasgow City Council, said: “Today’s report sets out many of the challenges and opportunities for Glasgow as we continue on our transition to a ‘smart city’.

“New technologies like EVs can play a part in decarbonising our transport system and improving our air quality – but they need to be rolled out fairly across the city, so everyone can benefit, and not exacerbate existing inequalities.

“The recommendations today can help ensure that government, and local authorities up and down the country, are able to oversee a successful shift to smarter technologies in a way that is fair, affordable and equitable.”

More companies looking to offer employees vehicle benefits

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Research has revealed higher levels of interest from different businesses looking to provide vehicle solutions to their employee base.

“Many businesses are looking for ways to improve their benefits offering to employees but at zero or little cost,” said Richard Cox, Fleet Consultant at Arval. “Extending vehicle provision is an excellent solution to this need, especially as a wider range of product offerings are becoming available right across the market. It is now possible to provide a car solution for just about any corporate setting.”

Cox added that offering modern vehicles also created benefits, such as improved environmental performance and reduction in the managerial difficulties surrounding grey fleet usage.

“In offering new, or nearly new, vehicles alongside maintenance and insurance packages, employers can mitigate some of the duty of care issues that are inherent in grey fleet,” added Cox.

“Of course, putting employees into newer cars will almost always also create environmental benefits, with lower polluting cars and potentially wider adoption of hybrids and EVs. This is a definite win from a CSR point of view.”

Cox continued: “Certainly, we are seeing much higher levels of interest from many different kinds of businesses and it could well develop into a key fleet trend in 2019.”

Ford using ‘big data’ in London to predict traffic incidents

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Ford claims it has come up with a means by which so-called ‘big data’ could potentially help cities identify locations most likely to be the scene of future traffic incidents.

Its Smart Mobility division has spent the last year recording 1 million kilometres of vehicle and driver behaviour in and around London.

The company tracked vehicle journeys in the city and logged detailed driving data from driving events such as braking, the severity of that braking, and where hazard warning lights were applied.

This helped Ford to identify what it calls “near-misses”, which were then cross-referenced against existing accident reports, using an algorithm to determine the likelihood of where future incidents might occur.

“We believe our insights have the potential to benefit millions of people. Even very small changes could make a big difference – maybe cutting back a tree that has obscured a road sign – whether in terms of traffic flow, road safety or efficiency,” said Jon Scott, Project Lead at City Data Solutions, Ford Smart Mobility.

This concept was identified in the Ford City Data Report, which took its findings from more than 15,000 days of vehicle use, from 160 connected vans in the city.

Ford’s fleet of vans covered more than 1 million kilometres, the equivalent of 20 times around the earth, and delivered 500 million data points – each vehicle in the study was equipped with a simple plug-in device that recorded the journey data and then sent it to the cloud for analysis.

Data scientists from Ford’s Global Data Insight and Analytics team were then able to analyse the information through an interactive dashboard. Ford says the technology could be applied in any road environment, not just in cities.

The report also investigated other opportunities, such as how scheduling delivery van journeys for earlier in the day, before peak times, could benefit all road users, and how using journey data could help to identify the best locations for electric vehicle charging points.

“The Ford City Data Report is a showcase of what we at Ford can do with connected vehicle data, smart infrastructure, and our analytical capabilities. We are calling on cities to work with us to collectively solve problems that they can become even better places to live and work in,” said Sarah-Jayne Williams, director, Ford Smart Mobility, Ford of Europe.

For the full report, visit

Our friends electric: 89% of UK fleets to change to electric before 2030

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

89% of UK-based fleet managers expect electric vehicles (EVs) to play a major role in their businesses fleet by 2030.

The research, published by Geotab, also revealed that almost half of the 250 fleets surveyed in the UK do not currently have any EVs.

48% of those polled said Government initiatives were a leading motivator for the change to electric, while 48% said improvements to charging EVs, along with 32% who said improved selection of models also contributed to the growth of EV fleets.

Anticipation of the Government bringing in regulations regarding the implementation of EV fleets, similar to the ‘Road To Nowhere’ initiative, was commonplace, with 88% of fleet managers saying it was likely to happen.

Benefits to an electric fleet included 59% who agreed it was better for the environment, 46% who anticipated more efficient energy costs due to rising petrol and diesel prices and improved maintenance and  upkeep costs (42%).

“These survey results help to demonstrate that the government’s call for an EV future is not something businesses are taking lightly,” said Edward Kulperger, VP Europe at Geotab. “With most fleet leaders looking to have a fully EV-dependent fleet over the next few years, it’s no longer a question of if, but rather how soon a complete overhaul can take place.

“Based upon the outcome of this survey, it’s clear that businesses and fleets feel they now need additional government initiatives and smart updates to critical infrastructure across the UK.

“If this can be made a priority, as a nation, Geotab is confident that the UK can take a spot as one of the most innovative global leaders trying to help push the widespread adoption of green transportation in the coming years.”

Less than 2% of those polled for the survey claimed that there are no benefits to an EV fleet.