Supporting low carbon vehicle manufacture

Posted on 7 Oct 2009 by The Manufacturer

The UK vehicle manufacturing sector has become increasingly aware of the economic opportunities that an emerging low carbon vehicles market offers, and one organisation that is engaging with business to help support innovation in vehicle technology is the Government–backed Technology Strategy Board.

Professor Neville Jackson, Group Technical Director, Ricardo UK Ltd said: “Over the past few years, access to funding for innovation has changed dramatically. Since the establishment of the Technology Strategy Board in 2007 there has been a marked improvement in industry engagement and access to government funding.” The Technology Strategy Board is a player in a collective effort to make low carbon vehicles technology a widespread reality. This shared goal is being pursued by business, government departments and UK bodies responsible for promoting innovative technologies that reduce carbon emissions. The organisation, sponsored by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), is a national body established in 2007 to invest in business innovation.

Chief Executive Iain Gray said: “We work with business to encourage innovation despite the risks that this might pose. By providing investment in areas of innovation where real business opportunities lie, we not only encourage individual businesses to thrive but also contribute to the UK’s overall economic prosperity.“ Since 2007 the Technology Strategy Board has invested in £58m in 32 low carbon vehicles research and development projects, with a total value of over £120m. Many of the Technology Strategy Board’s partner organisations have played an integral part in this investment programme, with significant amounts of co-funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), One North East, Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

In the two years since it was established, the Technology Strategy Board has placed itself at the heart of a national structure designed to support innovation in the vehicle industry. The Low Carbon Innovation Platform was established in 2007 bringing the industry, government, and major players together in a focused way and creating a key support for the sector. The aim has been to promote Low Carbon Vehicle research, development, and demonstration in the UK, so that the sector is best placed to benefit from the growing demand for low carbon vehicles.

In the same year, the Technology Strategy Board ran a £23m competition (del. call) co-funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) for Low Carbon Vehicles with a five to seven-year route to market. This generated £52m of innovative development work on a number of exciting projects, involving over 50 businesses and academic partners.

In 2008 the Integrated Delivery Programme (IDP), a five-year plan to integrate the whole innovation chain in the area of low carbon vehicles, was established. This programme is designed to pull new ideas from basic science, through research and development, and into demonstration. The organisation is expecting a total of £250m to be invested in this programme over the next five years and it is co-funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Advantage West Midlands and One North East.

This year the Technology Strategy Board has run three competitions for R&D funding under the Integrated Delivery Programme banner, focusing on the development of electrical systems for low carbon vehicles, Proof of Concept and Collaborative Research &Development in areas informed by the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT) report, and a third £3m Strategic Research Competition run and funded by EPSRC.

2009 also saw the launch of the Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme, a project that involves vehicles being tested in the real world. In all, 340 vehicles have been funded to the tune of £25m, with demonstrator projects taking place over the next eighteen months in seven regional areas across the UK.

Iain Gray said: “We were delighted to be able to support strong projects involving Mitsubishi; Nissan; BMW Group; Jaguar Land Rover; Allied Vehicles and Lightning Electric Vehicles, among others.

It was important that the projects should provide charging points. Partners therefore included both energy providers and charging point manufacturers and approximately 500 charging points will be installed .This is the largest coordinated trial of its type, and will provide real-world data to help the industry move towards mass-market usage.

Announced recently, the Energy Technologies Institute’s joined-cities project will build further on this work.”

For more information about the Technology Strategy Board and its work on Low Carbon Vehicles please visit: