World leaders in the future of automotive based in Surrey took part in the latest Spotlight on Surrey event.
Innovation is in the very DNA of Surrey, with a long and proud history of being at the forefront of developing new technologies and when it comes to the automotive industry some of the biggest names in the sector call Surrey home.
Alternative power sources including electric and hydrogen were on the agenda and speakers underlined the importance of basing their businesses in Surrey to be able to access highly trained workers.
Gordon Murray, Chairman of Gordon Murray Group Ltd emphasised the point by discussing future plans to work even more closely with universities and colleges.
Having spent 20 years as Technical Director to two Formula One teams from 1969-1990 Gordon Murray has a wealth of technical, design and engineering experience.
He revealed he plans to create a Technical Academy at his new headquarters in Windlesham, as well as bringing all the elements of his business under one roof. His shareholding will go into establishing a trust to finance the Technical Academy, as a means of giving back to the industry that has been so good to him.
“The aim is to ensure it doesn’t just help our business but it helps Surrey and other businesses based here,” he explained.
Andrew Whitehead, CEO of Protean Electric, also comes from a Formula One background, having helped to lead Honda F1’s engine development in Europe, and he underlined the key role Surrey has to play in the future of the automotive industry.
“Whilst leafy Surrey is not the first place that people may think of when contemplating cutting-edge automotive technology, as today’s panel proves, it is a hub in the UK for automotive innovation.
“Our location here gives us access to the most important thing any business can have – a talented pool of people, shared by the other innovators who are based here, plus great transport links and access to the market across the UK, Europe and beyond.”
Other automotive speakers included Jamie Corstorphine, Director of Product Strategy, at McLaren. He talked about how luxury supercars such as McLaren would continue to thrill their owners across the world with their style, while requiring less energy to do so.
And Helen Mutter, General Manager, Product & Production Planning at KIA UK Ltd said her company was taking the transition to eco-friendly transmission very seriously and the public needed to get used to the idea of electric vehicles as they are the future.
While Jon Hunt, who is the Manager for Alternative Fuels at Toyota GB and recognised as an Alternative Fuel Champion in 2020, put the case for hydrogen fuelled vehicles.
Business South Director Andy Swift, said: “Surrey has a thriving world beating automotive cluster and it was just brilliant to learn of the new ideas and planned innovation that’s under development.
“Spotlight on Surrey provides a great platform for valuable collaboration benefiting participating businesses, the wider supply chain and the county overall that ultimately prospers from such a successful cluster,” he said.
The online event also heard from Science Minister Amanda Solloway talking about the importance of innovation, Professor Aldo Sorniotti showed how the automotive engineering team from the University of Surrey are working at the cutting edge and Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt stressed the county had a key role to play in the national recovery.
Spotlight on Surrey, which is delivered in partnership with Business South, is designed to showcase the world-leading areas of expertise flourishing in Surrey and the next event on July 14 will focus on decarbonisation and the green economy.