£38m fund to use F1 technology to design greener cars

Formula 1 technology could soon make family cars lighter, improve fuel efficiency and help plug-in vehicles go further - after an innovative research project won a share of a £38.2 million government prize.

The project is one of more than 130 car manufacturers, technology companies and research centres across the country to have won a share of the money – announced in the Budget – which will create high-tech jobs and help Britain become a global leader in exporting advanced, emission-cutting technology.

A consortium including Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Nissan has received £1.7m for ‘light weighting’ technology – applying the science behind F1 cars and space satellites to make passenger cars weigh less and more fuel efficient.

nissan leaf front
The results could reduce the weight of steel components in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf by more than half.

The results could reduce the weight of steel components in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf by more than half, potentially extending the distance a plug-in car can drive by up to 25%.

Transport Minister, Andrew Jones commented: “Our £38m investment will help Britain become a world leader in this exciting and valuable technology sector, creating skilled jobs of the future as part of our long-term economic plan.

“It will also mean lower running costs for motorists and less fuel consumption, which is good for the environment and our economy.

“This competition continues our £600m commitment by 2020 to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, making journeys cheaper and greener, ensuring the nation is fit for the future.”

The winning projects were chosen following a competition launched last September encouraging companies to propose innovative ideas to cut vehicle emissions.

The funding combines £30m from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) with £8.2m of additional funding from Innovate UK, who will support the schemes.

They will begin unveiling working prototypes by 2018 and could feature in passenger cars from 2020.

The OLEV Research & Development Fund will award funding to more than 130 companies and research organisations across the UK, including:

  • West Midlands: £7.6m for 36 organisations across the region, including £1.7m for a consortium led by JLR and Nissan to develop ways of manufacturing composite materials making vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient. International manufacturers currently pay a premium for light-weight materials – such as carbon fibre found in F1 cars – and this investment will support the mass production of an emerging technology that can boost British-made exports across the globe.
  • Yorkshire & Humber: £4.4m across 12 organisations. Sheffield-based Faradion Ltd lead a consortium receiving £1.3m to significantly reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries by using cheaper sodium-ion technology, while a collaboration between Magnomatics Ltd and the University of Sheffield will develop a more efficient transmission system using magnets.
  • South East: £5.6m across 20 organisations. Ceres Power Ltd in Horsham led a team receiving £770,000 to test new fuel cells extending the range of electric vans.
  • East Midlands: £7.5m across 23 organisations. One consortia led by Far-UK in Nottingham is awarded £1.4m to explore how to replace steel bodies with lighter materials while maintaining the highest safety standards.
  • Scotland: £2.5m across seven organisations. Sunamp Ltd near Edinburgh led a team to transform chilled or frozen food fleets using ‘thermal store’ technology to minimise battery power used up to keep food deliveries fresh.
  • North West: £1.7m across seven organisations. A team including Clean Air Power Ltd in Lancashire will seek to apply greener dual-fuel technology to HGVs, cutting emissions on freight deliveries.
  • East of England: will receive £2.9m across 15 organisations. Controlled Power Technologies Ltd in Essex leads a consortium of four winning £1.8m to develop a low-cost hybrid system suitable for capturing braking energy and providing an extra boost to smaller city cars.
  • Greater London: £2.2m across 11 organisations. Advanced Design Technology Ltd will lead a project team to develop thermal recovery kits that capture waste heat from the exhaust and turn it into electricity.
  • South West: £3.1m across 16 organisations. HiETA Technologies get £1.7m to lead a project developing new lighter vehicle components made from advanced aluminium alloys.
  • North East: Will receive £570,000 across five organisations including the light weighting collaboration with JLR.