£54 million investment as UK automotive industry accelerates towards net-zero emissions

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More than £54 million in combined government and industry funding has been committed to three innovative projects for cars, buses, heavy goods vehicles and vans across the UK, co-ordinated by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

In Northern Ireland, £11.2 million for the development and manufacture of low-cost hydrogen fuel cell bus technology and a hydrogen centre of excellence with Wrightbus in Ballymena, to further the development of hydrogen technology and drive product sales across the world.

In Wales, lightweight electric powertrains for heavy goods vehicles will be developed in Cwmbran led by Meritor in a £31.9 million programme which will also see a new technology centre built in Scotland.

In Warwickshire, £11.3 million has been committed through Shield Manufacturing Technologies to develop and manufacture an energy recovery system developed in motorsport and integrated with an e-axle and motor, to reduce energy use in cars and vans in a transformational project for the UK’s production of motors and inverters.

Ian Constance, Chief Executive at the APC said: ‘We are delighted to have guided the latest investment of more than £54 million in the development and production of innovative powertrains to further accelerate the transition of the automotive sector to a net-zero future. The funding will enable the UK to apply its world-class innovation and experience in electrification of vehicles across the supply chain in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

‘From fuel cell technology for buses, designed and built in Ballymena, a lightweight electric powertrain for commercial vehicles developed and manufactured in Wales and an integrated motor and energy recovery systems system for cars and vans based on motorsport technology in Warwickshire, today’s announcement secures and creates nearly 10,000 jobs and will cut CO2 emissions equivalent to removing the lifetime emissions of nearly 1.8 million cars.

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is leading the world by developing cutting edge technology that will help to tackle climate change and lead to a green, prosperous future for our automotive sector.

“These projects will not only help accelerate the wider application of greener technology in lorries and buses, but will also help generate the high-skilled jobs to level up regions across the UK while ensuring we build back greener.”

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “As we look to reduce our carbon emissions, strive towards our net-zero goals and level up right across the UK, the whole transport sector will need to embrace new innovative technology such as green hydrogen and these projects are a fantastic example of doing just that.

“I’m proud to see the UK leading the way in the global transition to zero-emission vehicles. In the next decade, we’ll continue to be at the forefront of their design, manufacture and use as we build back greener.”

Projects to receive funding from the latest Advanced Propulsion Centre funding competition APC17 include:

Next Gen FCEV – The UK is a global leader in bus design and manufacturing. Wrightbus in Ballymena is developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle single and double-deck buses. This programme will enable higher volume production at lower cost and create a centre of excellence for zero emissions hydrogen technology to upskill and share knowledge in the UK.

EPIC (Electric Powertrain Integration for Heavy Commercial Vehicles) – The next generation of zero emissions heavy commercial vehicles need lightweight ‘smart’ powertrains to manage extreme levels of electrical power. The EPIC project led by Meritor in Cwmbran integrates the key elements of motor, inverter, gearbox, differential and brakes in a single lightweight system for vehicles up to 44 tonnes and includes coaches, off-highway and construction vehicles.

e-MOTIF (e-axle with MOTor Inverter and Flywheel) – Weight saving and reducing energy consumption are key to winning in motor racing. The e-MOTIF project led by Shield Manufacturing Technologies in Warwickshire combines lightweight energy recovery technology from motorsport with a new motor and inverter for cars and vans to cut energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The e-MOTIF project is scalable and cost effective for global manufacturers and will lead to three new manufacturing centres opening across the UK.

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