Britain’s truck driver shortage causes nationwide chaos
A shortage of truck drivers across the United Kingdom sparked concern amongst UK citizens, with many people panic-buying fuel over the weekend. Fuel rationing had to be implemented by most companies, as the chaos led to pumps running dry.
UK Government ministers and oil companies have confirmed that there are ample supplies of petrol and diesel, and in fact, the cause for concern is the lack of truck drivers that are able to transport the fuel from refineries to gas stations. The British Road Haulage Association (RHA) says there is a shortage of around 100,000 drivers due to workers leaving the industry, Brexit, and Covid-19.
In response to the events, the government has considered introducing temporary work visas to allow non-UK HGV drivers to enter the country to reduce the strain on the industry. Up to 5,000 foreign drivers would be allowed to enter, which would be a welcomed solution by logistics companies and retailers.
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Ford and SK Innovation set to spend billions on new EV and battery plants
Through a joint venture, American automaker, Ford, and South Korea-based energy giant, SK, have set out plans to spend over $11 billion in new facilities in the United States. As well as twin lithium-ion battery plants in Kentucky, a 3,600-acre campus including a battery plant, a supplier park, a recycling center, and an assembly plant is being designed in Tennessee.
This project aims to create around 11,000 new jobs, as well as increasing development and production of the company’s electric vehicle range, including batteries. With this investment, Ford wants to be recognized as a leader in the EV segment, with CEO James Farley saying they are “ahead” of competitors.
Ford hopes to accomplish carbon-neutrality in the new manufacturing facility in Tennessee, helped by also performing zero-waste-to-landfill processes. This announcement from Ford ties in with President Biden’s recent call for companies to onshore supply chains amid the current shortage of semiconductor chips.
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China’s energy crisis puts pressure on global supply chains
Manufacturers across China are facing yet another crisis, this time due to a lack of energy. Authorities have imposed strict measures, where they have the power to cut electricity use in large provinces such as Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. These three “economic powerhouses” account for almost a third of the nation’s GDP, so the damage is likely to hit supply chains hard.
Factories were already rushing to meet demand for the festive period after the pandemic stopped them in their tracks. Recently, manufacturers have faced significant cost increases along with shipping delays and the ongoing container crisis. Now, companies based in the effected provinces are forced to hike prices and postpone overseas orders because they cannot meet production targets.
Chief economist at Nomura in Hong Kong, Lu Ting, says “global markets will feel the pinch of a shortage of supply from textiles, toys to machine parts.” Companies are responding to the recent crisis, with Goldman Sachs the latest firm to lower their forecast for China for this year, with recent cuts to “high-energy-intensity” industries adding “significant downside pressures” for the future.
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