UK car sector accelerates towards electric future

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The Lotus Evija electric sports car presented at an event in London last week. AFP

(AFP) – 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.

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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.

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 £1.7 million ($2.1 million, 1.8 million euros).

“Electrification is absolutely part of our future,” said Mr Popham. “In the not-too-distant future, all of our cars will offer electrification.”

Lotus’ plant in Hethel, eastern England, will see a £100-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.

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