Jaguar Land Rover and BMW join forces
The latest major move in the faltering automobile industry comes from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and BMW which are joining forces to develop the next generation of electric vehicle technology.
The whole industry is suffering, and these two companies are no exception. JLR is in the process of cutting 4,500 jobs and BMW is attempting to cut approximately €12bn of costs following a profit warning. In the face of this, innovation is required if the companies are to stay competitive, leading to this collaboration.
It is unclear for now exactly what products will be jointly developed by the pair, but there is clearly significant overlap in electric technology and the experience both JLR and BMW can bring to the table. Both companies have a good pedigree in the electric car market, with models such as the BMW i3 and the Jaguar I-PACE performing well, which should stand them in good stead.
Nick Rogers, engineering director at JLR, said: “It was clear from discussions with BMW Group that both companies’ requirements for next-generation electric-drive units to support this transition have significant overlap making for a mutually beneficial collaboration.
“The pace of change and consumer interest in electrified vehicles is gathering real momentum and it’s essential we work across industry to advance the technologies required to deliver this exciting future.”
Perhaps the most important effect of this merger will be a loosening of the isolationist stance which has generally defined the automobile market since its inception. Each carmaker jealously guards its secrets and wouldn’t dream of sharing technology.
However, the arrival of Tesla marked a shift. Elon Musk’s company released its electric car technology patents in an effort to make it easier for others to build electric cars. In this way, Tesla actively promoted its overall goal of transitioning the world away from reliance on fossil fuels and forced its competitors to change.
Now we are starting to see the results. As the electric car market has expanded, pressure has been put on old-fashioned fossil fuel combustion engines. This is particularly the case in China, one of the world’s largest markets and the place where electric vehicles are in the greatest ascendance. Falling sales in China led directly to financial issues for JLR which has forced the company to look for alternatives.
If the biggest car companies continue to work together on electric technology, we will see better, more efficient electric and hybrid vehicles in due course. Once they become commonplace, and the infrastructure is there to support them properly, there will be almost no reason to own an old combustion engine vehicle.