The new head of a £50m advanced facility for creating cleaner mobility is targeting participation in more than £20m of collaborative industrial research projects this year as the race to electrification gathers pace.
Simon Shepherd has been appointed as director for the Centre for Advanced Low-Carbon Propulsion Systems (C-ALPS), a Coventry University research initiative established to engage with strategic industrial partners.
The powertrain systems expert has been given the task of developing capabilities in energy storage, power electronics and electrical machines, as he looks to bring together cutting-edge academic research and commercial expertise to help industry partners to accelerate commercialisation of clean technologies.
Coventry University and founding partner FEV have already invested more than £15m into the C-ALPS facility, installing an electronics lab, battery cell prototype line and battery cycling lab, alongside FEV’s own advanced engine test cells.
It will now look to attract next generation technology projects that help OEMs and the supply chain meet an increasing public demand for real-world CO2 reduction through cleaner mobility.
Simon Shepherd, who is a Chartered Engineer, IMechE Member and Mentor, commented: “The race to decarbonised transport is one of the biggest challenges facing the automotive sector right now, as all of the big players try to find increasingly high-tech ways to meet stringent emission targets while ensuring their organisations remain profitable.
Simon Shepherd (centre) with the C-ALPS team
“At the heart of this is how we power the vehicles of the future and how we can move faster towards mass adoption of hybridised and fully electric transport, the $billion question that we are all working frantically to find an answer to that works both environmentally and commercially.”
He continued: “C-ALPS has the potential answer, providing the sector with unique access to the best professors, applied learning, industrial expertise and an e-mobility hub that is packed with the latest testing, development and prototyping capabilities. There is really nothing else like it in the UK.
“Our first eight months have been about recruiting some of the UK’s best academic talent and investing in facilities that include a battery cell prototype and test facility that can produce and characterise cells in many standard automotive pouch and cylindrical formats.”
Simon Shepherd is one of the UK’s leading figures on powertrain systems, boasting more than 20 years’ experience in transmissions, control and electronics, electric machine design and vehicle system modelling.
He has significant expertise in technical consultancy and training, leadership and management of multi-disciplined technical teams after holding senior roles at Ricardo and Drive Systems Design.
One of his first tasks at C-ALPS will be to identify key industrial partners and match their needs to the centre’s core priority research areas and capabilities, incubating high-impact project ideas that can attract ground transport and aerospace funding from bodies such as Innovate UK.
There will be a specific focus on developing, maturing and commercialising technologies and manufacturing processes around battery energy storage and hydrogen fuel-cells, power electronics, and electrical machines.
C-ALPS is reportedly already in discussion with a number of OEMS and international academic intuitions, the latter opening up potential opportunities for collaboration in new markets.
Centre for Advanced Low Carbon Propulsion Systems
C-ALPS is located in a 30,000 sqft purpose-built hub, housing some of the most advanced internal combustion and electrification test bed facilities currently available in the UK.
The capabilities will be available to OEMs, SMEs in the supply chain and technology partners keen to accelerate the creation of new cleaner mobility systems for use across automotive, aerospace, marine and rail sectors.
More than 40 new jobs have been created initially, with a number of apprentices and graduates from Coventry University already appointed.