Low-carbon cars for Midlands

Business secretary Lord Mandelson has announced the creation of a ‘Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) for Advanced Automotive Engineering in the Midlands’.

The LCEA, which is funded by Advantage West Midlands and East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), will bring together partners from industry and academia to work on projects aimed at making future cars more environmentally friendly.  

Some of those projects include the Low Carbon Vehicles Technology (LCVT) programme, which will accelerate the development and introduction of next-generation low-carbon vehicles through advances in key technology platforms such as batteries, motors and aerodynamics.

The programme, which will receive £19.5m funding from Advantage West Midlands, includes partners Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Zytek, Ricardo, MIRA, WMG at the University of Warwick, Coventry University and UK suppliers.

It is estimated the LCVT programme alone could create between 3,000 and 11,500 jobs in the UK by 2020, with the majority of those being in the West Midlands. At the same time, it is expected to generate wealth between £690m and £2.8bn.

Many of the collaborators on the LCVT programme bring their own expertise gained from previous low-carbontechnology programmes. Jaguar Land Rover, for instance, has been working on projects aimed at extending the range of electric drivetrains to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The UK carmaker also hopes to demonstrate, within five years, the feasibility of a mass-producible, lightweight car based on a body structure built using recycled aluminium sheet. It is believed this will be a key enabler for the mass production in the UK of low-carbon-dioxide premium cars.

While visiting the International Manufacturing Centre at the University of Warwick to launch the LCEA, Lord Mandelson said that the Midlands could lead the global automotive industry in the transition from conventional to low-carbon vehicle technologies.

‘The LCEA will send a clear signal to the global market about the Midlands’ strengths in advanced automotive engineering, he said.

‘The move towards a low-carbon economy presents huge opportunities. This new funding will help secure the Midlands’ 10,000 existing car-industry jobs, by helping transform them into the green car jobs of the future.’