How can the UK automotive supply chain capitalise on the shift towards electrification?

How can the UK supply chain stay ahead of the competition in a world where climate change commitments and air quality concerns are stimulating rapid development of low carbon and low emissions vehicle technologies?

The Advanced Propulsion Centre collaborated with the Spokes, E4tech and Ricardo to facilitate a series of workshops at LCV 2016 themed around the future supply of traction electric machines, power electronics and batteries. Guest speakers Nick Wells (Senior Purchasing Manager, Jaguar Land Rover) and Jonathan Jackson (Senior Buyer, McLaren Automotive) outlined their companies’ future supply chain requirements for electrified propulsion systems.

A wide range of companies then engaged in round-table discussions regarding how the UK supply chain could capitalise upon the shift towards electrification of the propulsion system. Highlights from that group discussion include:

Aligning capabilities with requirements

The group agreed that there is a clear opportunity to improve dialogue between vehicle manufacturers and the supply chain through a structured platform, helping vehicle manufacturers better understand the innovation capability of the UK supply chain. They also agreed that this could help innovators better understand vehicle manufacturers’ anticipated future requirements, enabling the supply chain to identify common requirements and opportunities for shared development.

The Automotive Council’s propulsion roadmaps have provided a foundation for shared understanding of vehicle manufacturers’ anticipated future technology requirements since their inception in 2009. The Advanced Propulsion Centre is working with the Automotive Council and Spoke communities to refresh the roadmaps. We encourage any company with an interest in the low carbon vehicle supply chain to get involved to benefit from knowledge sharing and ensure the roadmaps represent a UK industry consensus.

Preparing the supply chain

The group highlighted that in addition to the innovative technologies being developed with support from Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre there is a strong base of transferable skills within the UK supply chain. However, the group acknowledged that transferring that capability into high volume supply of new automotive products is a huge challenge.

The Automotive Council is working with the Advanced Propulsion Centre to map the requirements and challenges for the future supply chain for electrified propulsion systems. Through its collaborative R&D programme the Advanced Propulsion Centre helps de-risk the introduction of new technologies, whilst bringing together innovative SMEs with large vehicle manufacturers. In addition, through the Technology Developer Accelerator Programme the Advanced Propulsion Centre is helping early-stage innovators prepare their business and technology for the demands of the automotive industry.

Working collaboratively

Underpinning the workshops was the appetite of the vehicle manufacturers and supply chain to collaborate. Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren Automotive both expressed through their keynote presentations a clear desire to work with the UK supply chain to develop the next generation of electrified powertrains. The group also highlighted the importance of promoting even closer ties between academia and industry in order to provide a clear commercialisation path for the world-class research conducted in the UK.

EPSRC, Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre are working closely together to provide seamless support to the innovations that will address the challenges of the next generations of electrified propulsion systems. The Spoke network provides a foundation for collaboration and the framework for defining the grand challenges that will guide the development of innovative technologies.