The West Midlands’ fast-developing low-carbon automotive sector has called for like-minded suppliers to get involved in a £29 million project aimed at reshaping the future of passenger transport.
Over 150 people from the public and private sector gathered at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire to hear about the Low Carbon Vehicle Technology Project (LCVTP).
Following an address from Geoff Dart, director of advanced manufacturing industries at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, guests heard presentations from the project’s partners - Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Zytek, Ricardo, MIRA and WMG (formerly Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick and Coventry University - who set out their vision for low-carbon vehicles and invited like-minded potential suppliers to work with them.
Project director John O’Connor, from WMG, said: “All of the businesses present are expert in their chosen fields and have been invited to register their interest in working alongside these globally recognised organisations over the next five years to develop tangible, market-ready technologies that will revolutionise how vehicles are powered and manufactured in the future.”
Dr Geoff Davis, business development director at Nuneaton engineering firm MIRA, said: “There’s no one technology that will deliver a low-carbon future.
“It requires a fundamental reassessment of how we approach vehicle engineering; from advanced battery and motor technology for efficient propulsion, light-weight materials and aerodynamics to minimise lost energy, through to intelligent control systems for efficient operation in urban environments.
“MIRA is naturally at the heart of all these areas and we are delighted to work alongside those here today to ensure we continue to deliver the technological solutions to the pressing issues facing our society.
“What’s more, the low carbon agenda has for the first time in decades changed the rules of engagement in the auto industry.
“The need for completely new components, sourced from new partners and assembled into new modules is forging new alliances.
“If we are adept in this time of change, this region will emerge stronger than ever as the primary source of low carbon technology for the global marketplace.”
Dr Clive Hickman, from Tata, added: “Our first generation electric vehicle, the Indica Vista, will be on Britain’s roads later this year, but this is just the start.
“We are already planning next generation Electric Vehicles and the LCVTP programme is integral to our plans.
“Our intention is to provide radical innovations in system technologies, which we will deploy across deducted Electric Vehicle programs.”
The LCVTP has been made possible through a £19 million investment (£9.5 million funding from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands and £9.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund Programme (ERDF)) and a further £10 million contribution from the industry partners involved.
The project will create between 3,000 and 11,500 jobs in the UK by 2020, the majority of those being in the West Midlands and will also safeguard jobs in the supply chain as businesses switch to low carbon opportunities.
In addition, research estimates wealth creation resulting form the project at between £690 million and £2.8 billion.
The Low Carbon Vehicle Technology Project comprises 15 separate technical R&D workstreams, each of which is led by a partner who will work closely with selected SMEs to develop solutions, including battery cells and packs, drive motors, power electronics and high voltage electrical distribution.