This week’s automotive headlines – 5 February 2022
05 February 2022
Autovista24 looks at some of the biggest automotive stories from the past seven days. In this week’s roundup, Skoda undercuts its 2021 emissions target, Vulcan Energy signs a lithium deal with LG, UK used-car prices contribute to a ‘cost of living crisis, a new battery-recycling ecosystem is launched, and more…
Skoda undercuts 2021 EU CO2 emissions target by 3g/km
Skoda undercut its 2021 fleet-average CO2 emissions target in the EU, including Norway and Iceland. The average emissions of all models delivered in 2021 was 114.8g/km, 3g below the limit set by the EU. The increased share of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) especially lowered the brand’s average emissions. The Czech carmaker also made a positive contribution to the wider Volkswagen (VW) Group’s emissions of 118.5g/km in 2021, meeting its 120.8g/km target. In 2021, Skoda delivered around 43,400 BEVs to the EU, Norway, and Iceland, along with 27,600 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Building on this success, the company launched its Enyaq Coupé iV, which will be available with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, and three power outputs ranging from 150kW to 220kW for the sporty vRS variant. Skoda states the model will have a range of up to 339 miles (545km), depending on specification. The company plans to launch at least three more BEV models by 2030, all of which will be below the ENYAQ iV in terms of size and price. The goal is to increase Skoda’s BEV share in Europe to between 50% and 70% by 2030, and to reduce its fleet emissions by more than 50% compared to 2020.
Vulcan Energy ‘sold out’ after striking lithium deal with LG Energy Solution
German-Australian lithium developer Vulcan Energy has finalised a binding agreement with battery maker LG Energy Solution to sell lithium hydroxide to the South Korean company. LG Energy Solution will buy up to 50,000 metric tonnes of battery-grade lithium chemicals over five years, starting in 2025. Vulcan Energy, known for its CO2-free lithium project in Germany, said it was ‘fully sold out’ for the first five years of planned lithium production, following other agreements the startup signed with carmakers including Volkswagen, Stellantis, and Renault. LG Energy Solution is currently manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in Poland, the US, China, and South Korea, with plans to expand its production capacity. The deal will help the battery maker diversify its supply chain and brace itself against potential supply disruptions. ‘Our initial partnership with LG Energy Solution, the second-largest battery producer in the world, was a significant first step in our strategy to engage with tier one battery, cathode and automakers in the European market,’ said Vulcan’s managing director Francis Wedin.
Used car prices contributing to UK’ ‘cost of living crisis’
Online leasing company Vanarama has revealed a 24% increase in the cost of an average used car in the UK, since 2017. These vehicles now account for 47.2% of the average salary, compared to 41.5% five years ago. Used-car prices rose more sharply than alcohol, tobacco, fuel, and household energy. The leasing company identifies COVID-19 lockdowns as leaving many cars with lower mileage. Some people might have held onto their vehicles for longer, restraining supply to the used market. But others might have asked for more as their car had fewer miles on the clock. The global semiconductor shortage also had a major impact on the availability of new models. ‘Generally, the UK cost of living increases year-on-year, but used car prices are rising quicker still, up 24% in the last five years, said the company’s CEO, Andy Alderson. ‘Thanks to heightened demand and global supply issues, that’s likely to stretch into 2022.
New battery recycling ecosystem for UK
Battery technology developer Britishvolt has announced a joint-venture with strategic partner and mining company Glencore. The pair aim to develop a ‘world-leading ecosystem for battery recycling in the UK.’ Operational from mid-2023, the recycling ecosystem will be anchored at the Britannia Refined Metals (BRM) operation in Northfleet, Kent, and is expected to process a minimum of 10,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year. This yield of scrap will be sent to the Northfleet site, via barge, from Britishvolt’s gigafactory located in Blyth, Northumberland, and it is hoped that the facility will be powered completely by renewable energy. ‘We have been looking for the perfect partner to help kick-start a UK battery recycling industry and FTSE100-listed Glencore has expert historical experience in recycling,’ commented Timon Orlob, Britishvolt’s global chief operating officer. ‘This joint-venture will help us both to create a truly sustainable battery value-chain, create jobs, and develop new battery recycling technologies.’
Stellantis pays back €6.3 billion loan in Italy, continues further investment projects
Stellantis has announced that its FCA Italy division and other Italian subsidiaries have repaid a €6.3 billion loan to Intesa Sanpaolo. The carmaker added that the loan was ‘instrumental in the restart of industrial production and provided continuity for key investment projects to provide a sustainable future for the automotive sector in Italy.’ It had made use of the credit following the COVID-19 outbreak, with the goal to support the restart of Italy’s automotive sector. Intesa Sanpaolo, one of Italy’s largest banks and top lender, provided enough liquidity to Stellantis’ business in Italy as well as its Italian suppliers. The loan was granted in June 2020 and had a three-year maturity. Italy’s credit export agency SACE provided a guarantee on 80% of its amount. ‘Stellantis is now in a position to repay the facility in advance of its original maturity date of March 2023 while continuing its investment projects,’ the carmaker said.
Jaguar Land Rover integrates Amazon Alexa
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is deploying Amazon Alexa to all its vehicles fitted with the Pivi Pro infotainment system. The voice-enabled technology can connect with navigation, media, phone calls, and compatible smart devices. So, a user could turn on the lights in their connected home on the way back from work or check the battery percentage of their electrically-chargeable vehicle (EV) from the living room. Alexa can also check the news and weather, as well as manage schedules and shopping lists. However, this feature is not a new model exclusive. More than 200,000 existing owners of compatible cars will gain access to Alexa via an over-the-air (OTA) update. ‘We are excited to deliver that same delightful, convenient experience to Jaguar and Land Rover customers – and because Alexa is always getting smarter, new features and capabilities will be added over time and delivered to their vehicles automatically,’ said Christian Mentz, head of Alexa Automotive International.