LONDON: Britain’s auto industry, seeking to swerve Brexit obstacles, is accelerating toward electrification as consumers shun high-polluting diesels, driven by rapid advances in technology and greener government policy.
Four famous car brands born in Britain but now foreign-owned — German-held Bentley and Mini, Indian-backed Jaguar Land Rover, and Chinese-controlled Lotus — have each this month outlined plans for purely electric models to sit alongside their petrol vehicles, reports AFP.All-electric cars, which need to be charged from the mains, and hybrids, which combine electrics with petrol or gasoline engines, are gaining in popularity as more consumers turn away from the pollution-spewing internal combustion engine.
“You need to be into electrification,” Lotus Cars chief executive Phil Popham told AFP in an interview after unveiling the firm’s first all-electric sports car Evija — pronounced “E-vi-ya” — which the company will start making next year.
Lotus, 51-percent owned by Chinese auto giant Geely, plans an initial sale of only 130 of the supercars, which will each cost about o1.7 million ($2.1 million, 1.8 million euros).
“Electrification is absolutely part of our future,” said Popham. “In the not-too-distant future, all of our cars will offer electrification.”
Lotus’ plant in Hethel, eastern England, will see a o100-million investment over the next five years as it ramps up its sports car range with financial firepower and technical knowhow from Geely, which bought its majority stake two years ago.
Etika Automotive of Malaysia holds the remaining 49 percent of Lotus.Popham said the removal of large components, like the internal combustion engine and gearbox, will see the so-called hypercar Evija have an electric motor on each wheel.
It will reach 0-60 miles per hour in three seconds and have a top speed of 200 mph. Fully-charged however, it will be able to drive a distance of only 250 miles (400 kilometres).
In the more affordable premium market, Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors, is planning a range of electric vehicles at its central England factory — starting with the next-generation Jaguar XJ luxury saloon model.