UK government provides new funding for driverless and low carbon R&D projects

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UK Business Secretary Greg Clark and Transport Minister John Hayes have awarded £109.7m (US$136.9m) of government funding, alongside significant contributions from industry, to help develop the next generation of driverless and low-carbon vehicles, as part of the country’s Industrial Strategy and the government’s ‘Plan for Britain’.

Seven innovative projects will share grants from the latest round of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Center (APC), the joint industry-government program to put the UK at the forefront of low carbon vehicle technology. The projects, led by BMW, CNH Industrial, Ford Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Penso Consulting, Westfield Sportscars, and Williams Advanced Engineering, cover a wide range of new innovations that will help the UK to continue to build on its excellence and become a global leader in low-emissions technology, and safeguard 2,370 jobs. The schemes include:

• The development of a high-power battery suitable for high-performance vehicles;

• A project to address gaps in, and strengthen, the UK supply chain;

• The development of the fueling system for a concept gas-powered tractor;

• Technologies to reduce the weight and improve electrification in SUV vehicle platforms.

A further seven projects have won funding from the government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) to advance the development of a range of ultra-low and zero emissions vehicle technologies. These projects will be led by Equipmake, Ford, Great British Sports Cars, JLR, Ricardo Innovations, Romax Technology, and Wrightbus. In a fresh commitment to supporting these innovative technologies, the government is also announcing that people buying an electric vehicle (EV) will continue to benefit from up to £4,500 (US$5,620) off the cost of an ultra-low emission car, up to £2,500 (US$3,120) off a hybrid, and receive £500 (US$625) toward the installation of a charge point in their home.

“Low carbon and driverless cars are the future, and as a government, we are determined through the Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and put the UK at the forefront of this revolution,” explained Clark. “Investment in this technology is an integral part of this government’s efforts to ensure the UK auto sector remains competitive and world-leading. The projects being awarded funding will help extend our excellence in these cutting-edge research fields, helping to safeguard jobs, while ensuring the UK remains the go-to destination for automotive excellence.”

Hayes commented, “I am absolutely committed to improving air quality and reducing pollution in towns and cities, which is essential for people’s health and the environment. This government is investing £109m (US$136m) to support British businesses in developing innovative, important technologies which will greatly reduce our emissions footprint. The number of ultra-low emission vehicles on our roads is at record levels, and our renewed support for these exciting technologies is yet another significant milestone.”

Ian Constance, chief executive of the APC, added, “The APC funding demonstrates the depth of low carbon development that is now possible in the UK. From powertrain, to lightweighting, to energy storage, these new projects will not only lower emissions, but secure thousands of jobs, address supply chain gaps, and help the UK become a true global leader in advanced vehicle technology.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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