How Formula One technology could drive vehicle emissions reductions

The UK Government has announced new funding of £38m to support emissions reduction schemes across the automotive industry, including an innovative project which harnesses Formula One (F1) technology to make family cars lighter and plug-in vehicles go further.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Nissan are members of a consortium that is set to receive a £1.7m share of a Government competition for the F1-inspired light-weighting technology to make commercial cars weigh less and become more fuel-efficient.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the technology could reduce the weight of steel components in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf by more than half, potentially extending the distance a plug-in car can drive by up to 25%.

This is one of the projects to receive part of the £38m DfT competition funding, which combines £30m from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) with £8.2m from Innovate UK. Transport Minister Andrew Jones explained that the competition – which forms part of £600m Government funding to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020 – will “make journeys cheaper and greener”.

Winning projects

Jones said: “Our £38m investment will help Britain become a world-leader in this exciting and valuable technology sector, creating skilled jobs of the future as part of our long-term economic plan. It will also mean lower running costs for motorists and less fuel consumption, which is good for the environment and our economy.”

The new funding will support more than 130 car manufacturers, technology firms and research centres across the UK. Other projects include a £1.3m venture led by Sheffield-based Faradion which will aim to significantly reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries by using cheaper sodium-ion technology, and a collaborative project led by Clean Air Power in Lancashire which will seek to apply greener dual-fuel technology to HGVs, cutting emissions on freight deliveries.

The winning projects were chosen following a competition launched in September 2015, encouraging companies to propose innovative ideas to cut vehicle emissions. Dft says successful schemes will begin unveiling working prototypes by 2018 and could feature in passenger cars from 2020.

Commenting on the new funding, Innovate UK’s head of transport Roland Meister said: “UK businesses have a great opportunity to be at the leading edge of the global drive to increase efficiency and reduce emissions from our vehicles. This £38m of Government support means that more than 130 innovative organisations right across the country now have the chance to get their ideas off the drawing board and potentially into the cars and trucks of the future, boosting the economy by at least £532m in the process.”

Racing ahead

This is not the first time that F1 technology has been used for an innovative sustainability initiative. The technology was recently used to cultivate a new aerodynamic device that can reduce the energy consumed by refrigerators by almost half.

The two car manufacturers involved in this new F1 technology project – Nissan and JLR – have developed a reputation as industry leaders in taking a sustainable approach to reducing manufacturing emissions. Earlier this month, Nissan announced it would be powering its regional office in France with energy generated from its electric vehicles, and a month ago JLR pledged to invest £36m over the next three years in renewable energy, energy efficiency and process improvements.

The funding has come in the same week that a new report revealed that regulation changes to emission testing in the wake of the Volkswagen (VW) diesel scandal have put US car giants Ford and General motors at risk of losing billions in emissions penalties.

Last month, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicted that, by 2040, sales of electric vehicles will represent 35% of all new car sales.

Greening your fleet at edie Live 2016

Whether from logistics and operational vehicles or company cars, fleet emissions can contribute significantly to an organisation’s carbon footprint. From driver management to electric vehicles, the edie Live 2016 exhibition at the NEC Birmingham in May will address the approaches and options available to reduce impact, cut carbon and green your fleet.

Find out more about edie Live 2016 and register to attend for free here.

George Ogleby

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