£91.7 million investment as UK automotive industry accelerates towards net-zero emissions

18/08/2021

  • The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) welcomes a further £91.7 million commitment across four innovative automotive projects in the latest round of late-stage research and development funding.
  • Four transformational programmes forecast to create and safeguard thousands of UK jobs, boost the UK’s automotive supply chain, and remove emissions equivalent to 1.3 million cars*, accelerating progress towards 2050 climate targets.
  • Investment in technology that will make range-anxiety a thing of the past and accelerates the decarbonisation of logistics, commercial and high-performance vehicles.

Net-zero motoring moved a step closer today as the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) announced almost £92 million combined government and industry funding has been committed to four innovative projects, aiming to tackle range anxiety and find solutions to decarbonise commercial and heavy-duty transport.  

Together the four projects are estimated to prevent nearly 32 million tonnes CO, which is equivalent to the lifetime tailpipe emissions of 1.3 million cars and will help safeguard or create over 2,700 jobs. 

 

Speaking about today’s announcement Ian Constance, Chief Executive at the APC said: “These projects tackle some really important challenges in the journey to net-zero road transport. They address range anxiety and cost which can be barriers to people making the switch to electric vehicles and they also provide potential solutions to the challenge of how we decarbonise public transport and the movement of goods.  

“By investing in this innovation we’re taking these technologies closer to the point where they are commercially viable, which will strengthen the UK’s automotive supply chain, safeguard or create jobs and reduce harmful greenhouse emissions.” 

  • £41.2 million of joint industry and government funding will be guided into a project led by REE at their Engineering Centre of Excellence at the MIRA technology park in Nuneaton to develop and manufacture their REEcorner technology which packs critical vehicle components (including steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control) into a single compact module located between the chassis and the wheel, enabling fully-flat EV platforms to meet the growing needs for efficient commercial electric vehicles.
  • £26.2 million of joint industry and government funding has been committed to a project led by BMW Group to develop an electric battery in Oxford that will rival the range of internal combustion engines.
  • £14.6 million of joint industry and government funding will be guided into a project led by Cummins to develop a novel zero carbon, hydrogen-fuelled engine in Darlington, to help decarbonise heavy-duty commercial transport.
  • £9.7 million of joint industry and government funding will be committed into a project led by Sprint Power in Birmingham to create ultra-fast charging batteries for electric and fuel cell hybrid vehicles that can charge in as little as 12 minutes.

Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said: “By investing tens of millions in the technology needed to decarbonise our roads, not only are we working hard to end our contribution to climate change, but also ensuring our automotive sector has a competitive future that will secure thousands of highly-skilled jobs. 

“Seizing the opportunities that arise from the global green automotive revolution is central to our plans to build back greener, and these winning projects will help make the widespread application and adoption of cutting-edge, clean automotive technology a reality.” 

Further detail on the projects to receive funding from the latest Advanced Propulsion Centre competition (APC18):  

REECorner™ for EVs, Nuneaton
£41.2 million total project investment (£12.5m funding through APC) 

The project will develop and manufacture assembly technology in Nuneaton for REEcorners for use in electric light commercial vehicles (e-LCVs) and mobility-as-a-service applications. The funding will allow REE to facilitate mass production of its breakthrough REEcorner™ technology and electric vehicle platforms including engineering design, validation, verification and testing and product homologation. REE’s fully-flat, ultra-modular EV platforms are designed to offer superior payload capacity by providing more room for carrying passengers, cargo and batteries and enhanced body design flexibility and autonomous capability. 

Mike Charlton, REE Chief Operating Officer said: “REE is delighted to have been selected as recipient of APC funding to support REE investment in the UK automotive ecosystem following an extensive vetting and selection process. The UK is an ideal location for a pioneering automotive company like REE thanks to the country’s commitment to vehicle electrification which dovetails with our vision towards propelling a zero-emissions, greener future for our generation and those to come.” 


BMW-UK-BEV, Oxford

£26.2 million total project investment (£12.8m funding through APC) 

The project aims to develop BMW Group’s largest battery pack to deliver superior performance at competitive costs and will further develop electric vehicle technology, enabling enhanced performance and emission savings. BMW are working with their suppliers and partners to drive sustainability through every aspect of their production process and the vehicle lifecycle. Sustainability is at the heart of the BMW Group who recognise that the future of the company is linked to the future of the planet and their ambition is to produce the greenest electric car with more than 50% of global sales of BMW Group brand vehicles to be electric by 2030. This project will help support this ambitious plan.   

Andreas Loehrke, Head of Research and Design for BMW Motorsport Ltd. UK commented, “This is a really exciting opportunity to collaborate with world leading companies to develop high tech battery technology. It strengthens our UK partner base and safeguards and extends our research and design centre.” 


The BRUNEL project, Darlington 

£14.6 million total project investment (£7.2m funding through APC) 

The project will be a catalyst to accelerate the development of hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines (H2-ICE) to ensure the UK is at the forefront of this key emerging technology. Cummins will oversee a consortium of leading ICE sub-system suppliers, focused on medium and heavy-duty engines for trucks and construction equipment. The project will make a major contribution to increasing UK self-reliance in the emerging hydrogen economy and a significant uplift in the UK sourced ICE supply chain. A key deliverable will be to demonstrate tailpipe CO2 emissions can be virtually eliminated while retaining diesel-like levels of performance. 

Jonathan Atkinson, Executive Director of Cummins On-highway Business in Europe, said: “Confirmation of the strategic support awarded by APC is excellent news for Cummins and our world-class research and development facility in Darlington. This project will significantly accelerate the pace of hydrogen engine development, ensuring that the UK is in the vanguard of this exciting new technology which will play a significant part in decarbonising the global commercial vehicle fleet. 

“The APC18 project will maintain and upskill many hundreds of key technical jobs, not just at Cummins and our consortium partners but across our total supply base. In the mid-to-long term it offers major potential to expand our high-value export business, supplying hydrogen engines and sub-systems manufactured in the UK to customers around the world.” 


Project CELERITAS, Birmingham 
£9.7 million total project investment (£4.8m funding through APC) 

Project CELERITAS will develop ultra-fast charging battery cell and pack for electric and fuel cell hybrid vehicles to accelerate their market acceptance by addressing consumer concerns over charge time. The technology being developed is targeting a typical BEV to be charged in 12 minutes and for fuel cell vehicles, will enable a fast response battery pack to facilitate an optimised fuel cell system saving size and mass of the system and providing a significant improvement to the overall vehicle efficiency.

CELERITAS will also develop the UK supply chain to allow UK battery electric-vehicle and mild-hybrid electric vehicle manufacturers to achieve post-Brexit requirements of more than 50% parts sourced from UK suppliers within three years. 

Founder and CEO of Sprint Power, Richie Frost, commented: “As we move steadily towards the UK’s ban on new petrol and diesel combustion engine vehicles in 2030, tackling consumers’ concerns on EVs head on is critical. We are delighted to be leading this pioneering project that will create a step change in battery charge times, helping to create highly efficient fuel cell vehicles for the future and accelerating the charging time on battery electric vehicles significantly closer to refuelling times on today’s internal combustion engine cars.” 

*Lifetime emissions comparison metrics are calculated based on an average annual mileage of 7,400 miles, in a vehicle with CO2 emissions at 149.6 g/km and vehicle life of 13.9 years. This is in line with the latest SMMT data. 

Click here to download project images.