£86.9m for scale-up and R&D of net-zero vehicle technology

Posted on 9 Oct 2023 by The Manufacturer

The Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) has announced the successful applicants of its latest funding rounds, sharing £86.9m of government and industry funding into zero tailpipe emission vehicle technology.

The package of funding supports:

  • Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D)
    • 4 project consortia funded
  • Automotive Transformation Fund
    • 7 key feasibility studies that will produce decision-ready business cases, in preparation for projects which will develop large-scale manufacturing facilities in the UK.
    • 5 scale-up projects which will assess if businesses in the UK automotive supply chain are ready for growth and expansion.

APC Chief Executive Officer Ian Constance said: “The 23rd round of our collaborative R&D competition coincides with the APC’s 10th anniversary. We have seen over £1.4bn of investment into automotive projects since the APC was set up, and I am proud of the impact that we have made here in the UK. This latest announcement includes a diverse set of OEMs and suppliers that demonstrate the strength of UK automotive. They will further add to our portfolio of innovative projects and continue to drive the UK to deliver on its net zero ambition.”

Benefiting from this multimillion-pound investment under APC Collaborative Research and Development (CR&D) are consortia led by:

Aston Martin, to accelerate the development of a luxury battery electric vehicle platform, enabling a route to net zero, including vehicle lightweighting, a digital toolchain and electrification training.

Yasa, makers of the world’s lightest in-wheel electric motor and acquired by Mercedes in 2021, is focused on creating an innovative combined electric propulsion & handling system, which aims to revolutionise existing EV (Electric Vehicle) systems

Gestamp’s Autotech Engineering R&D UK, leads a consortium on a project to create new design methodologies, processes, and materials for reduced embodied carbon footprint in product designs.

Perkins, the historic British engine maker, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, will develop a net-zero, hydrogen-hybrid, integrated power system for off-highway vehicles.

This is the latest in Collaborative R&D support from the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC), with a total project cost of £67.9m, covering a range of different vehicle types to decarbonise each market segment they inhabit.

This includes a £33.9m government grant combined with industry match-funding.

From luxury cars to workhorse excavators, the multi-year projects will capitalise on the expertise of the UK’s broad automotive industry by bringing manufacturers together with SMEs and academic partners.

Each will contribute to jobs and capability in the UK – estimated to create or safeguard more than 4,700 jobs in total across the R&D projects. It is also projected that 65 million tonnes of CO2 will be saved over the next decade as a result of the work undertaken by these four alone.

Announcing a wider package of investment from the Department for Business and Trade, including Niche Vehicle Network funding, Minister for Industry and Economic Security Nusrat Ghani said:

“Together with industry, we’re providing a huge £89m of funding to drive 20 groundbreaking net zero tech projects which will help grow the economy and create UK jobs in the industries of the future.

“From net-zero tractors to cutting-edge battery projects, we’re taking decisive action to back the UK’s innovators and ensure we remain at the forefront of zero emission vehicle technology.”

Also within the package announced today, is an £11.3m Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) grant shared by 5 UK-based projects that will be funded through the second instalment of the SuRV (Scale up Readiness Validation) competition, plus 7 UK-based projects receiving funding through the ATF Feasibility Studies competition.

The Automotive Transformation Fund is a programme created to support large-scale industrialisation and the transition to net zero.

APC Automotive Transformation Director Julian Hetherington said:

“The Automotive Transformation Fund is supporting 12 new projects to scope out opportunities within the wider supply chain that could lead to significant investments in manufacturing here in the UK. Gigafactories are only part of the story, as much of the supply of materials is currently imported from carbon-intensive sources. If the sector is to transition to net zero and localise production, this funding can help to show where the potential is for expanding the UK’s capability.”

The five projects and companies funded through the SuRV2 competition are:

HELIX Hx-SuRV2: Validating Helix’s readiness for the scale-up of high power-density and scalable electric motor platforms focusing on ‘high-premium’ automotive applications.

GREEN LITHIUM REFININGGreen Lithium plans to build a lithium scale-up plant in Teesside. The plant will support the commissioning and training of a skilled workforce for its full-scale plant in Teesside, which will produce enough refined lithium to enable the downstream production of over 1 million electric vehicles.

ADVANCED ELECTRIC MACHINES Project SIMPLE aims to establish an efficient, scalable UK-based manufacturing process for sustainably produced traction motor systems in electric passenger vehicles.

GEOTHERMAL ENGINEERING Geothermal Engineering Limited will use this award to install Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) at the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant at the United Downs Industrial Park in Cornwall.

ILIKA TECHNOLOGIESIlika Technologies, UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) and MPAC are partnering in project SiSTEM to accelerate the scale-up of Ilika’s solid state battery technology.

This round of funding also includes the fourth round of the APC’s ATF feasibility studies competitionThe seven projects and companies funded through round four of the Feasibility Studies competition are:

GAUSSIONMagneto-enhancement technology for solid-state batteries.

TALGA ANODE UKAssessing the feasibility of production of anode materials from recycled graphite and a graphite-silicon composite anode material using in-situ silicates from Talga’s Swedish graphite ore.

ALTILIUMPartnering with Lunaz to develop an innovative and sustainable solution for the safe transportation and discharging of end-of-life EV batteries.

STRIP TINNINGThis project will study the feasibility of investing in very high-volume manufacturing of their Cell Contacting and Management System. The CCMS is a safety-critical component of the power electronics system of Battery Electric Vehicles.

GREENROC MININGEstablishing a graphite processing plant in the UK to produce anode material for EV batteries from graphite concentrate from the Amitsoq Graphite Project in southern Greenland.

CORNISH LITHIUM Focusing on commercial extraction of lithium and other battery metals in Cornwall, notably the Trelavour hard-rock lithium mica deposit near St Austell. Funding to understand in greater detail the lithium resource in the ground and how much can be produced and together with a life cycle assessment will quantify environmental impacts

ABERDEEN MINERALSStudy of innovative mineral processing routes to accelerate the low-carbon production of cathode raw materials from North East Scotland.

Read more of our Sustainability articles here