Government pledges £75m for low-carbon vehicle projects

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has announced £75m of funding for five new low-carbon and energy efficient automotive technologies in its continued effort to promote growth and increase jobs in the sector.

Business secretary Sajid Javid announced late last week that the five winning projects – covering zer-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 £46.5m, zero-emitting vehicles project from the London Taxi Corporation; a £6m grant to the Morgan Motor Company to develop hybrid and all-electric sports cars, and a £5.4m 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 £2.9m to reduce the carbon footprints of electric forklifts and a £13.1m innovation research project led by Jaguar Land Rover to enhance the turbocharger supply chain in the UK.

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

APC’s director for technology and projects Jon Beasley said: “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 comes following 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.

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.

Nissan Motor GB managing director James Wright said: “This record year for Nissan highlights once again the importance of our investment in the UK and commitment to electric vehicles. We’re proud to be leading the industry when it comes to 100% electric vehicles and with our new longer range LEAF and e-NV200 there are options available to everyone.”

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 £600m 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 compliment the growth of EVs appearing on UK roads, Heathrow Airport announced a £2m plan to ‘go electric’ with the installation of more than 135 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

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

Matt Mace

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