£1.1 million invested into UK niche vehicle projects at Cenex-LCV 2023
Over £1 million worth of funding has been awarded to four innovative UK niche vehicle technology projects by the Niche Vehicle Network at the UK Government Pavilion during this year’s Cenex-LCV show.
The announcement was made by The Niche Vehicle Network (NVN), in conjunction with the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), marking a successful end to the NVN 2023 Production Readiness Competition.
The Niche Vehicle Network Production Readiness Competition, sponsored by the APC and supported by Innovate UK, provides a platform for collaborative research and development for organisations active in the UK zero emission niche vehicle technology sector. As part of a ceremony held at the UK Government Pavilion, over £1m in grant funding was distributed amongst the four winning projects.
Among the winners was a zero emission Ariel Nomad, ZELV3, featuring a highly optimised EV powertrain. This project aims to advance the battery technology and vehicle control systems previously developed in an NVN funded Proof of Concept project, optimising the manufacturing methods towards a state of pre-production readiness in preparation for exploitation to the low volume niche vehicle market. Ariel Electric Limited and Rockfort Engineering Limited will partner with BAMD Composites to develop a lightweight aerodynamic body that improves vehicle efficiency while reducing environmental impact over the vehicle’s whole lifecycle.
Another project awarded funding was a removable battery system for lightweight Maeving electric motorcycle. Maeving are developing a new, higher energy density removable battery with improved thermal performance to accelerate their growth and launch their international expansion. The project will move their battery production from a Far Eastern to a UK based supplier, Alexander Technologies, supporting their ambition to make Britain a leading manufacturer of electric motorcycles.
A lightweight, rapid-charge, electric all-terrain vehicle (ATV) has also been awarded funding. Following on from a recently completed NVN funded proof of concept project, CALLUM is leading a consortium with Nyobolt and Codem Composites to deliver a lightweight, rapid charge, electric ATV with the aim of creating a product that not only equals but betters the performance attributes of the ICE ATVs that currently dominate the market. The project includes refinement of the previously developed battery packs and composite space frame chassis, combined with a sustainable composite body and electric powertrain.
The fourth and final project to leave Cenex-LCV with funding is an electric scooter by Swifty Scooters. This project addresses three common problems within the e-scooter industry – rider safety, battery safety concerns and product lifespan. This project will accelerate the development of the new UK made electric scooter which is optimised for superior rider safety, as well as development of a new battery featuring LFP (also known as LiFePO4 or Lithium Ferro Phosphate) chemistry. The design and engineering by Swifty Scooters also guarantees a long product lifespan by way of premium build quality and enabling fix and repair within both the scooter design and battery design. These factors offer significant benefits in terms of Net Zero at vehicle level, at consumer level, and for the e-scooter industry as a whole.
The competition provides a springboard for niche automotive SMEs, providing them with crucial financial support and expertise in navigating the final stage of developing new technologies to a production readiness standard.
Scott Thompson, Programme Director for the Niche Vehicle Network, said:
Congratulations to the four winners of the NVN 2023 Production Readiness Competition. It’s great to see such a diverse and exciting range of projects being funded again this year, as part of a niche sector that is embracing the move to zero emission vehicles and a net zero future. We’re delighted to continue supporting these collaborative partnerships which are leading the way in sustainable cutting-edge technology design and delivering highly desirable vehicles. These Production Readiness projects will allow the participating companies to build on their previous concept level projects, pushing them towards commercial reality by advancing the technology and manufacturing readiness levels. They also play an important role in developing the UK low volume EV supply chain, creating that not only benefit the projects but also the wider niche vehicle sector.
Josh Denne, Head of SME Programmes, APC, said:
APC is delighted to support another cohort of the Niche Vehicle Network Production Readiness Competition. This crucial competition provides grants from UK SMEs and their supply chains to take existing low carbon vehicle technologies from demonstration through to production readiness in a compressed timescale, leading to significant economic benefits whilst reducing CO2 emissions. The quality of innovation coming from the niche vehicle sector is wonderful to see. The journey to net-zero must span the whole automotive sector, and these cutting-edge, highly innovative niche vehicle technologies will help the UK reach its climate targets.
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