The third APC funding competition, ‘Developing new automotive propulsion technologies’: why is the focus on lowering emissions?

‘Developing new automotive propulsion technologies’, the third funding competition from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), has a focus on lowering emissions – why is this?

Of course it’s not just this latest £100 million funding opportunity, because the entire purpose of the £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre is to help turn low carbon propulsion technology into products developed in the UK.

From a government perspective, lowering CO2 from transport is essential in order for the UK to meet the legally binding targets from the 2008 Climate Change Act, of at least an 80% reduction in CO2 by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

In terms of the automotive industry, there is the need to meet increasingly lower European passenger car CO2 targets. The fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2015, and 95g/km by 2021, phased in from 2020.

According to the SMMT, average UK new car CO2 emissions stood at 128.3g/km in 2013. This is an impressive 3.6% reduction compared to 2012, however this needs to drop by over 30g/km in just seven years.

The Automotive Council propulsion roadmaps chart the anticipated future vehicle powertrain technologies that will be needed for vehicles to achieve dramatically lower CO2 emissions. New technologies such as increasing degrees of electrification will be required, and the Advanced Propulsion Centre will work with the automotive industry to ensure such technologies are developed in the UK.

Although the focus has been on CO2 over recent years, there is currently an increasing awareness about the issues caused by other emissions from vehicles – such as particulates and NOx that have an impact upon local air quality and people’s health.

Therefore ‘Developing new automotive propulsion technologies’ (or ‘APC 3’) is offering up to £100 million for projects that deliver significant reductions in vehicle CO2 or other emissions, compared to current best-in-class technologies. Based on the key drivers above it will come as no surprise that further APC competitions will also continue the theme of emissions reductions for propulsion systems.