Westminster fuels low-carbon vehicle projects with €100m

Morgan, a car marque noted for its continuing use of wood in its designs, is set to be one of the companies to benefit from the funding. [Dave Catchpole./Flickr]

The United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has announced £75 million (€98m) in funding for five new low-carbon and energy-efficient automotive technologies,  to promote growth and increase jobs in the sector. EURACTIV’s partner edie.net reports.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced last week that the five winning projects – covering zero-emission vans and taxis through to high-end sports cars – will create and protect 851 jobs and reduce carbon emissions by more than 4.2 million tonnes of CO2.

Javid said: “These new projects will cement the UK’s position as a leading global centre for low-carbon innovation and manufacturing. Our fast-growing and diverse automotive industry has been especially successful at exporting high-value, high-technology vehicles all over the world and our focus on next-generation innovation will ensure we can continue this progress and create even more high-skilled jobs.”

The five projects consist of a £46.5 million, zero-emitting vehicles project from the London Taxi Corporation; a £6 million grant to the Morgan Motor Company to develop hybrid and all-electric sports cars, and a £5.4 million battery pack generation scheme from a consortium led by AGM Batteries.

The final two projects come from a consortium led by engineering firm Parker Hannifin which was awarded £2.9 million to reduce the carbon footprints of electric forklifts and a £13.1 million innovation research project led by Jaguar Land Rover to enhance the turbocharger supply chain in the UK.

>>Read: Jaguar to enter world of electric motorsport

Funding was awarded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) – a decade-long, £1 billion partnership between Westminster and the automotive industry.

APC’s Director for Technology and Projects Jon Beasley said that “the announcement demonstrates the government’s on-going commitment to supporting the UK’s low-carbon advanced propulsion system innovation ecosystem. Co-investment in technological developments shows the UK is committed to establishing itself as a global centre for the promotion and development of low-carbon propulsion systems”.

LEAFs on the road

The news follows another record year of growth for the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) sector. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose more than 40% in the UK last year, gaining a largest ever market share of 2.8%.

In another industry announcement late last week, the leading developer of commercial EVs, Nissan, announced that registrations for the all-electric Nissan LEAF reached 5,236 for 2015 in the UK – a 30% uptake on the prior year.

>>Read: Berlin seeks to spark e-mobility with €5,000 incentive

The announcement makes the LEAF, which is built in Britain, the best-selling pure EV in the UK for the fourth year running, with Nissan claiming that it now outsells all other EVs by a two-to-one ratio.

In total, sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose more than 40% in the UK last year, gaining a largest ever market share of 2.8%.

Surging commitment

The government has declared its commitment to the EV sector by offering more than £600 million to support the sector over the next five years. This includes last month’s decision to extend grants to subsidise the purchase of electric and other low-emission cars by at least two years.

To complement the growth of EVs appearing on UK roads, Heathrow Airport announced a £2 million plan to ‘go electric’ with the installation of more than 135 electric vehicle charging stations.

However, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has warned that EVs could cost five times more than other methods of tackling air pollution.

Electricity, as an energy option for vehicles, offers the possibility to substitute oil with a wide diversity of primary energy sources.

This could ensure security of energy supply and a broad use of renewable and carbon-free energy sources in the transport sector which could help European Union targets on CO2 emissions reductions. 

Electrification of transport (electromobility) has been identified as a priority in the EU's research programme, Horizon 2020.

The EU is also supporting a Europe-wide electromobility initiative, Green eMotion, worth €41.8 million, in partnership with 42 partners from industry, utilities, electric car manufacturers, municipalities, universities and technology and research institutions.

The Energy Union is part of the political response to the threat to EU gas supplies.

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