APC invests US$45.3m in low-carbon automotive powertrain development

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The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) has awarded £35m (US$45.3m) to three UK-based low-carbon automotive powertrain projects that could potentially reduce CO₂ by three million tonnes and create or safeguard nearly 1,800 UK jobs.

With a total value of more than £70m (US$90.7m), including both government and industry investment, the projects are also expected to enhance the UK’s supply chain and competitiveness in the development of ultra-low emission vehicles, and upskill UK workers.

Companies involved will include Hofer Powertrain, Aston Martin, Ceres Power, Nissan, Artemis Intelligent Power, Danfoss and Robbie Fluid, covering a broad range of industries.

Artemis Intelligent Power in Greater London will focus on non-mobile machinery, which contributes 10% of all NOx emissions and 11% of all PM 10 emissions.

This project aims to introduce a disruptive technology to the off-highway vehicle sector, which will reinvent hydraulic power for the digital age. It has the potential to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of some off-highway vehicles by more than 50% when fully developed and will help anchor future R&D and manufacturing capability in Scotland.

Ceres Power will work with Nissan to develop a compact, high power density, solid oxide fuel cell specifically designed to extend the range of electric light commercial vehicles. This program addresses commercial vehicles, one of the most challenging aspects of the transportation system to decarbonize, and will demonstrate the scalability of the technology to other automotive segments.

Hofer Powertrain and Aston Martin meanwhile are developing a new generation of technically advanced e-motor and inverter modules, which will be manufactured in the UK, for future high-performance vehicles. This project is expected to build the UK’s e-mobility skills base and improve productivity.

Ian Constance, chief executive of the APC (pictured), said, “The challenge of lowering emissions is shared by the entire automotive industry, and includes all areas of the sector. This latest round of APC funding highlights the broad range of vehicle types that will benefit from developments in low-carbon innovation, with successful applicants developing technologies for commercial and off-highway vehicles, as well as the wider e-mobility industry. We expect that this approach will help to create and safeguard jobs across the UK automotive sector.”

Niall Caldwell, MD at Artemis Intelligent Power, commented, “This UK funding will enable us to develop digital displacement technology as a major component in the US$3.5bn off-road equipment market. It’s not enough to invent these technologies in the UK – we also need to manufacture them here and export around the world. This announcement paves the way for the UK to take the lead in a low-carbon technology with global potential.”

Ceres Power CEO Phil Caldwell said, “This APC-funded project will develop an automotive-specification fuel cell range extender. It is the next step toward increasing the technology and manufacturing readiness of a compact, robust, fast-response SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) stack for high volume production.

“APC funding enables Ceres and its partners, who are responsible for the automotive application, to jointly engineer a SOFC solution that contributes to a low-carbon future.”

William Hartley, MD at Hofer Powertrain UK, added, “The grant awarded to Hofer Powertrain and partners under APC9 enables us to anchor the design and manufacture of advanced electric and hybrid drive units, power electronics and control software in the UK, alongside our transmission design and manufacture capability. It would not have been possible without the support of APC and BEIS (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).”

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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