The UK Government recently awarded £109.7 million (US$141 million) of government funding, alongside significant funding from industry, to help develop the next generation of driverless and low-carbon vehicles, as part of the Industrial Strategy and the government’s Plan for Britain.
The awards are divided between funding from the Advanced Propulsion Center (APC) – 7 projects with support up to £62 million (US$80 million); the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) – 7 projects with support up to £16.7 million (US$21.5 million); and the second round of the connected autonomous vehicles competition (CAV2) – 24 projects with support up to £31 million (US$40 million).
APC. Seven innovative projects will share grants from the latest round of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the joint industry-government program to put the UK at the forefront of low carbon vehicle technology. The projects, led by BMW, CNH Industrial, Ford Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Penso Consulting, Westfield Sportscars and Williams Advanced Engineering, cover a wide range of new innovations. Successful schemes include:
The development of a high power battery suitable for high-performance vehicles;
A project to address gaps in and strengthen the UK supply chain;
The development of the fueling system for a concept gas tractor; and
Technologies to reduce the weight and improve electrification in SUV vehicle platforms.
OLEV. A further 7 projects have won funding from the government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) to advance the development of a range of ultra-low and zero emissions vehicle technologies in the UK. These projects will be led by Equipmake, Ford Motor Company, Great British Sports Cars, Jaguar Land Rover, Ricardo Innovations, Romax Technology and Wrightbus.
In a fresh commitment to supporting these innovative technologies, the government is also announcing today that people buying an electric vehicle will continue to benefit from up to £4,500 (US$5,795) off the cost of an ultra-low emission car, up to £2,500 (US$3,219) off a hybrid and receive £500 (US$644) towards the installation of a charge point in their home.
CAV2. The government also announced the first set of winners of the second round of its connected autonomous vehicles competition, CAV2, with projects set to receive a share of up to £31 million (US$41 million), match funded by industry. Twenty-four projects demonstrated clear commercial value and identified technical solutions for CAV technology, including how these vehicles will work within the UK transport system. Further successful projects from this competition round will be announced soon.
Funding is divided into 4 streams and ideas include projects using cars and pods platooning, or going in formation, to transport passengers from Stockport train station to Manchester Airport, create vehicles capable of driving in a range of road environments and technology which could make any car operate autonomously.
The CAV2 competition includes funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, for 4 one-year research and development projects supporting CAV vehicle developments, specifically in the areas of energy reduction and air quality improvements. The government will launch its third CAV competition, CAV3, to fund further industry-led research and development projects later in the year.
The announcements of the new awards follow the launch of the first phase of government’s £100 million (US$129 million) CAV test bed programme at the end of March with a competition worth £55 million (US$71 million). In a speech to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Connected Conference in London, the Business Secretary outlined plans to create a cluster of excellence in CAV testing along the M40 corridor between Birmingham and London.
The test bed program forms part of the government’s Industrial Strategy commitment to develop world-class CAV testing infrastructure. The programme will use some of the UK’s existing CAV testing centers to create a concentrated cluster of testing facilities in the UKs automotive heartland in the West Midlands, including; Coventry, Birmingham, Milton Keynes as well as Oxford and London.
Through the launch of the Industrial Strategy green paper and the Plan for Britain, the government has significantly increased investment in research and development and reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in science and innovation ahead of the UK leaving the EU. This year OLEV will be publishing its long term strategy for the UK’s transition to zero-emission vehicles.