UK government challenges companies to develop new technologies to cut freight emissions


The UK government is urging companies to compete for up to £15m (US$20m) of new funding to develop technology to reduce harmful emissions from freight transport, as part of a £20m (US$26.8m) package to support development of technologies that allow a range of vehicles to be zero emission.

Businesses can lead research and development projects into low-emission technologies for cars, motorbikes, trucks and vans as part of the long-term funding plan for the UK to lead the way in new vehicle developments. For the first time, a portion of the money is being set aside to support research into technologies for medium and heavy goods vehicles.

The competition has been developed with Innovate UK and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) as the 14th competition under their integrated delivery plan (IDP), and will help the government achieve its ambition to see all new vehicles being emission free by 2040. The projects could see the development or use of materials that make freight vehicles lighter, or improve the efficiency of engines or batteries.

The first of the projects in the government’s low-emission freight and logistics trial that was announced earlier this year are now using new electric and hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles on the country’s roads. By mid-2018, more than 300 of these low-emission vehicles will be on UK roads.

Since 2010, OLEV and Innovate UK have invested more than £300m (US$403m) in research and development, targeted at improving technologies for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), which has unlocked a further £200m (US$268.7m) of private sector investment. The number of ULEVs on UK roads is at record levels, with more than 118,000 registered to date, and more than 11,000 registered between April and June this year.

Announcing the new funding, UK Roads Minister Jesse Norman said, “We have made important progress in lowering emissions and are always looking at further ways of improving air quality. Lorries (trucks) cause a third of the UK’s transport CO? emissions, and simple new technologies can have the greatest impact in reducing the harmful pollutants of freight. This funding will give UK companies the chance to lead the world in developing important innovations to improve air quality across the country.”

Simon Edmonds, director manufacturing and materials at Innovate UK, added, “We welcome this significant further investment in zero emission research and development funding, in particular its focus on freight and commercial vehicles, as this is a major opportunity for UK companies to drive forward innovations.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).