Are you developing any of the four strategic technologies covered by the APC’s current £100 million funding competition?

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) is currently inviting applications for funding for its third funding competition ‘Developing new automotive propulsion technologies’. If you are developing prototypes in this area (known as the Sticky Technologies) then you should speak to the APC today.

Internal Combustion Engines

The Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), with varying degrees of electrification, is seen as a core feature of low CO2 propulsion systems for decades. The UK has all the elements of the ICE supply chain in place from research to mass production. Companies with an expertise in combustion technology, fuels and lubricants, and in engines for motorsport, are ideal to develop this technology. Future technologies will include improved thermal efficiency, improved system efficiency, enabling technologies and carbon reduction for fuels/production. A combination of downsizing/electrification/heat recovery could achieve a reduction in emissions of 30g/km CO₂.

Electric Machines and Power Electronics

Electric machines and power electronics are essential for medium and long-term CO₂ reduction. Opportunities exist for development of technology in the areas of performance-focused electric machines, medium performance and low cost/power motors, hybrid power units i.e. electric motors and ICE, and power electronics – all leading to an integrated electric drivetrain solution. The UK has a significant number of innovation companies looking to commercialise technology expertise. There is a significant opportunity to develop the supply chain for these technologies to mass production, but sector growth will depend on collaborative supplier innovation and development across systems and components. There is a need to focus on the UK’s strong R&D capability, to encourage and develop SMEs and new entrants, and to encourage OEMs/Tier1s to invest in the UK supply.

Energy Storage and Energy Management

In the pursuit of lower carbon vehicles, new market opportunities are emerging in the area of energy storage and energy management. A wide variety of alternative technology solutions are developing in the UK supply chain. A range of energy recovery/storage technologies is being studied by industry and academia including electrical (electro-chemistry, electro-static), mechanical/kinetic (high speed flywheel, compressed gas), and thermal (cryogenic fluids, high temperature, low temperature). Electro-chemical technology is a key enabler for mass-market take up of EVs, and for supporting hybrid market growth. Energy management is key to supporting all areas of advanced propulsion systems and provides many opportunities for the UK supply chain.

Lightweight Vehicle and Powertrain Structures

After a long period of vehicle weight gain due to increased safety, functionality and durability requirements, recent years have seen a small reduction, thanks to the use of computer-aided engineering optimisation and some application of higher performance materials. In order to meet projected vehicle 2020 CO2 targets, the average mass of large segment vehicles will need to reduce by 200Kg over today’s average. The issue will be to achieve the required weight reduction to meet anticipated future CO2 targets whilst maintaining or increasing functionality, and without adding to material cost or at least maintaining the cost of ownership. Therefore there are seen to be three key technology challenges: cost effective migration of mature premium sector technologies; adoption of new/alternative technologies from other areas/sectors; and more revolutionary solutions developing ‘next generation’ design tools integrating vehicle design and material optimisation. There is significant scope to turn these challenges into opportunities for increased UK manufacturing of lightweight materials, components and systems.