British-based car firms will receive £24m under government plans to develop the UK’s low-carbon vehicle industry through six technology research projects.
The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) programme will focus on developing the supply chain while allowing companies such as Jaguar Land Rover to improve their electric and hybrid vehicle capabilities.
Each project will be carried out by a consortium of automotive and other firms, which will include major producers such as Lotus, Nissan and Ford, as well as supply-chain manufacturers and universities.
Speaking at last week’s Low Carbon Vehicles show in Bedfordshire, transport secretary Philip Hammond said: ‘These projects represent cutting-edge technology that has the potential to transform the way we travel in a way that will stimulate a vital and growing market.
‘In short, this is investment that will deliver measurable economic benefits, as well as tangible environmental ones.’
The scheme, which is worth £52m, including investment from business, aims to keep future component manufacturing opportunities within the UK once the technologies that are being investigated reach mass production.
Business minister Mark Prisk said: ‘Collaboration between UK-based vehicle manufacturers, supply-chain companies and academia will help Britain become one of the leading centres for the design, development and manufacture of ultra-low carbon vehicles.
‘All of these projects had to demonstrate a credible route to market. This is about real business opportunities and high-tech jobs being created from the move to a low-carbon economy.’
The six projects include an energy-recovery system, a lightweight low-emissions delivery van, a hybrid refuse collection vehicle, range-extended electric engine design, engine emissions optimisation and lightweight aluminium composite building materials.
Jaguar Land Rover is the lead partner on three of the projects and will use the resultant technology to continue improving its extended-range electric car, the Limo Green, which was developed under a previous TSB-funded scheme.
Jaguar Land Rover’s chief engineer of hybrid technology, Pete Richings, told The Engineer: ‘What this government and previous government is interested in is developing a low-carbon high-technology industry in the UK.
‘As the only significant UK-based producer of vehicles we are a pretty good catalyst in terms of getting high-technology and industry working together. This next stage in the project is about moving the whole concept on to the next level.’
Paul Everitt, chief executive of industry body the SMMT, welcomed the announcement. He said: ‘These important projects… will support the UK supply chain for low-carbon vehicles. This latest announcement reinforces the influence of the Automotive Council and the benefits of the partnership between industry and government.’