Automotive giants including Aston Martin, Nissan, Renault, Peugeot and Toyota gathered at Hensol Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan on 30 November to “show Wales’ readiness to maximise on the huge opportunities presented by electric and hydrogen vehicles” at the country’s first ever Low Carbon Intelligent Mobility conference.
Aston Martin Vehicle Line Director Andy Haslam was there to talk about the company’s new electric vehicles, the Rapide E luxury saloon which will begin manufacturing in nearby St. Athan in the spring, and the Lagonda EV in the coming years. He was joined by Carl Bayliss, Head of Nissan EV, Tony Walker, Managing Director Toyota Motor Europe, and Welsh Government Economy Secretary Ken Skates who talked about the Clean Air Plan for Wales, and reminded delegates that the hydrogen fuel cell was actually invented in Swansea in the 19th century by Welshman William Grove.
Aston Martin’s Andy Haslam said: “At Aston Martin we understand emerging technologies and want to maintain our position at the cutting edge of the industry. We are undertaking the most ambitious growth plan of any luxury car manufacturer ever, creating the most accomplished automotive art in the world, based on craftsmanship and artistry. We’re embarking on a new era of electric in Wales, never losing sight of our customers, and who they are likely to be in the future.”
The event recognised Welsh innovation with an appearance by the distinctive gullwing Riversimple Rasa, built in Powys, a pioneering hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle; and news of Cardiff-based Hemmels’ production of the world’s first electric Mercedes-Benz Pagoda, a beautifully crafted rebuild of one of the world’s most desirable classic cars, which goes into production next summer.
Hemmels Director Iain Wood said: “We make beautiful classic cars in Wales, and so we want to make beautiful electric vehicles that are sustainable and desirable to future generations.”
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: “Skills, innovation and sustainability are all things I, as Economy Secretary, have put front and centre of my economic policy over recent years, most explicitly in last year’s Economic Action Plan.
“It’s this focus, alongside the expertise and vision of companies such as Riversimple, Calsonic and Hemmels here in Wales which means we are in a fantastic position to maximise on the enormous opportunities presented by low carbon vehicles, which are unquestionably the future of travel.”
The event was chaired by motoring presenter and journalist and passionate advocate of electric vehicles Quentin Willson, and saw Welsh Government outline its policies to support decarbonisation, focussing on the automotive supply chain changes and opportunities as cars go from the internal combustion engine to electric and hydrogen power sources.