The conflict unfolding in Ukraine continues to cast a shadow over world events and this includes the automotive sector.

We begin this month's roundup with news of Lockton's efforts to help the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Through our Lockton Cares fund, we have donated US$150,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross to support on-the-ground efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

This donation is being made on behalf of our people and our Caring Culture and will kick off an internal effort for all of Lockton to come together to provide ongoing support to those being affected by the conflict.  

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people and nation of Ukraine.

The impact the Ukraine conflict is having on the motoring world

The most obvious impact has been seen at the petrol pump, with prices rising steadily since the beginning of March. A move towards using reserves in countries other than Russia has created some stability but prices across the UK rose beyond £1.50 per litre.

The cost of metals used throughout the car manufacturing process are also increasing. Aluminium, Palladium, and Nickel have all risen. While metals have not been included in the sanctions against Russia, some companies are avoiding purchasing stock and shippers are avoiding the country.

Additionally, Ukrainian-based manufacturing of components has virtually halted. This is reported to be impacting some German car makers.

Was 2021 as bad we thought?

For car manufacturers, the answer is a surprising no. Figures recently published by leading market analyst Jato Dynamics paint a positive picture against the backdrop of 2020, closed showrooms and the continuing shortage of semi-conductor chips.

While the total number of cars sold overall was around 10 million fewer than pre-pandemic levels, seven out of the top 10 global markets reported higher sales than 2020.

The headlines are as follows.

  • Toyota replaced Volkswagen at the top of the sales charts.
  • BMW sold more units than Mercedes, becoming the top seller in the premium sector.
  • Tesla broke into the top five best-selling car list for the first time with its Model 3.
  • China remains the top selling market globally, ahead of the US and Japan.
  • UK sales remain solid, despite being pushed into seventh place by a rebounding Canada.

High voltage performance

It will come as no surprise that sales of electric vehicles have surged and figures for 2021 show that 6% of global car sales were EV, with Tesla accounting for 21% of the 4.2-million-unit total.

North America's growing interest in EVs is said to be one of the main influencers despite continued popularity of petrol engine SUVs and pickup trucks, with demand from China also linked to the sales surge. Europe, by contrast, is lagging.

Much of the global demand was due to sales of Tesla's mid-range Model 3 which launched globally by 2019. This has fuelled the brand's success and is said to have paved the way for other manufacturers to increase their efforts in the sector.

An alternative direction

Japan is renowned for its automotive engineering heritage and Toyota has joined with Kawasaki, Mazda and Subaru to explore alternative fuels, which will allow traditional engines to continue to be developed, leaving a cleaner footprint.

Toyota has unveiled a version of its V8 engine which runs on liquid hydrogen. Developed by Yamaha, its power and torque outputs are claimed to be only slightly less than the existing petrol unit and with minimal changes required during the development process.

There are still some emissions areas to be tackled, such as the production of nitrous oxide during the combustion process, but the fast-paced Green Hydrogen sector is developing ways to produce the gas in a cleaner way, which is said to also have a positive impact on the production of other alternative fuels.

Back to the Future

Cars from the 80's have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years and there can be fewer icons from the decade than the Yuppy's choice of wheels and the car Marty McFly piloted back to 1955 and forward to a point that is now seven years ago – yes, that still blows our minds too!

Singer is famous for its reinterpretation of Porsche's most famous model and their latest car pays homage to that symbol of eighties excess, the 911 Turbo. The changes are subtle, meaning that it retains the widened wheel arches and huge rear spoiler.

Modifications to the front bumper, lights, mirrors and the addition of air intakes in the rear arches are part of the package, with a 450hp engine, carbon ceramic brakes and the option of two- or four-wheel drive and more power should the customer so desire.

One of the silver screen's most iconic cars made its time travelling debut almost 40 years ago and the DeLorean DMC12 led a life almost as exciting. The manufacturing rights for the car were acquired in 1995 and the Texas-based firm has continued to support owners of this iconic motor car.

DeLorean recently announced an all-electric model. Details are sketchy at this stage, but the firm's website shows a silhouette featuring the famous gullwing doors.

We can only hope that they follow through with the project – we think Doc Brown would approve.

Roaring into 2022

There is a flurry of news in the sports and supercar sector this month.

Lamborghini's Aventador replacement has been spotted testing. The new car, due to be launched in 2023, will use a reworked V12 combined with a PHEV platform and become the Italian firm's first plug-in hybrid model. It will also set in motion a move towards electrification for the Urus and Huracan models.

McLaren makes the news twice. Lanzante is a name synonymous with the Woking company, having worked with them for over 25 years on both racing and road car projects. Their latest creation takes the P1 and creates a bespoke road car with higher downforce and a revised 4 litre Cosworth V8 engine.

Paying homage to the McLaren F1 GTR, the P1 HDK features gold plated heat shielding in the engine bay and numerous touches inside. Suspension is upgraded to cope with the increased downforce.

It is hard to believe that the P1's illustrious older sibling celebrates its thirtieth birthday this year and renowned classic car dealer Kidston Motor Cars threw a stunning party at Retromboile in Paris – the first time the event has been held since 2019.

The undoubted star of the show was the F1 bought new by the late George Harrison. Finished in a unique dark purple pearl with satin black wheels, the car features both lyrics from the songs made famous by Harrison and The Beatles and symbols from Hindu faith, which the singer practiced throughout his life.

It was the centrepiece of a display of seven “Macs” including XP3, the oldest surviving prototype and competition cars and a very fitting celebration of what, for many, is the original and still greatest hypercar ever made.         

In the club

Staying with the theme of super and hyper cars, we are excited to announce that Lockton Performance has become the official insurance partner to SCC Private Members Club.

The club caters for the owners of sports and supercars and offers members a wide range of events and driving tours. They will also be joining us at Salon Privé later this year and we will be attending some of their events to meet their members.

You can find out more about SCC here.

Out and about

After two years of limited activity, we are pleased that our car club partners are running a full schedule of events. From trackdays to national concours, the circuits and lawns will once again play host to some of the most amazing motor cars ever made.

Several of the clubs will also be joining us at Salon Privé in September for the Lockton-sponsored Club Trophy Day. This will include our enviable task of selecting the best cars from each club.

Our own plans for Salon Privé are well underway as Lockton's Gold sponsorship of the UK's premier concours continues for the second successive year. More details will be published soon!

Streamlining a famous lady

She is one of the most distinctive figures not only in the motoring world but worldwide. She has adorned the bonnet of Rolls Royce motor cars since 1909 and is undergoing the first major remodel in her history before appearing on Rolls' first EV, the Spectre, when it launches next year.

The mascot has been leaned back to be more streamlined, in keeping with the Spectre being the most aerodynamic car yet made by Rolls Royce. She will be shorter and her robes have been reshaped.

It's all in a name

We have previously reported on the end of the line for Lotus's Elise and it seems only fitting that the final customer car to leave the Norfolk factory was collected by the person whose name inspired the car more than 25 years ago.

Elisa Artioli's grandfather Roman was owner and chairman of Lotus when the car launched. She was 2 at the time and already the owner then of one of the first cars to bear her name (she still owns and drives it in the Dolomites near her home) so the Championship Gold 240 Sport that now joins it will be in good company.

All at sea

The Felicity Ace.

If the name isn't familiar, the cargo ship's contents might be after she sank off the coast of Portugal with an estimated US$155million of cars from Volkswagen on board. This included models from Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini. Cars from other manufacturers may be worth a further US$240 million.

Attempts to save the vessel were in vain and ecologists are concerned with the pollution risk from the 4,000 vehicles on board, fuel and lithium batteries which sank with the ship.

The crew were saved and fire fighters fought for almost a fortnight to control the fire, which started in the ship's hold.

New cars for March

  • Audi A8 – the latest generation of Audi's range topping saloon. Available in petrol, diesel and PHEV versions and includes the S8, now with over 560hp.
  • Ferrari 296 GTB – V6 hybrid, over 800hp and according to the journalists who have already driven it a genuinely superb and engaging addition to Maranello's stable.
  • GMA T.50 – the first customer cars are being delivered. Gordon Murray's take on the supercar, bearing many of the hallmarks of his “other” landmark car – McLaren's F1.
  • Lamborghini LP900-4 – the original bedroom poster car reborn with a hybrid V12 producing over 800hp. And sold out, unsurprisingly!
  • Land Rover Bowler CSP 575 – now part of JLR, the first model released is a 567hp creation using a last generation Defender body. Prices start at £200,000.
  • Mercedes S63 AMG S E Performance. Blending limousine luxury with a combined power output of more than 800hp and zero emission technology, courtesy of its 200hp electric motor.
  • Porsche Cayman GT4RS. Possibly the most eagerly anticipated car so far this year and adding a track-focused edge with almost 500hp to spice things up further still.

As Spring finally arrives, we are looking forward to getting to more events and continuing to bring you news from the motoring world.