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Low carbon vehicles – the future of automotive sector

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It was great to be back at the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicles 2016 conference and exhibition last week.

I was at the very first LCV event back in 2008, at that time myself and Michael Hurwitz from the Department for Transport (Dft) were announcing the newly created Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) which since 2008 has become a hugely influential partner in supporting this new technology and market.

From aspiration to real low carbon vehicle development

I was very pleased to return and to see for myself how much the sector and technologies have developed over the years, and the incredible successes that have been achieved.

In the very early days there was little to see in terms of vehicles and technology, the conference was very aspirational.

This year the steering pad space was awash with vehicles that people could test drive around the excellent Millbrook test tracks from a number of automotive companies such as Tesla and Ford, as well as niche vehicle companies such as Riversimple, Westfield and Caterham.

The amount of vehicles on display supports the fact that:

the UK has become the largest market within Europe for low carbon vehicles.

Something that Industry and Climate Change Minister Nick Hurd tweeted en route to the event.

nick-hurd-mp tweeting before LCV 2016

UK government showing its support for low carbon vehicles

This year Innovate UK was embedded as part of the Government Pavilion in Hall 3 and this was something that we had talked about for many years but were never been able to pull off, until now.

This means that the following UK government organisations were all exhibiting together a real one stop shop:

The Government Pavillion was our vision to physically demonstrate how the UK has a globally competitive low carbon vehicle eco system to support innovation, from very early stage research right through the oft quoted “valley of death” for innovation.

UK provides a comprehensive system of support to low carbon vehicles

Innovate UK is proud of the role it has played, over many years, in helping to build this eco-system, and we’ll continue to play our part.

This system is very much seen by other countries as a comprehensive system of support and in part helps attract many of the inward investors to the UK.

Also at the event were the High Value Manufacturing and Transport Systems Catapults both of whom do crucial work in this sector.

The Transport Systems pathfinder project was also operating at the event.

Transport Catapult Lutz pathfinder pod

Innovate UK is dedicating lots of funding to automotive innovation in 2016

2016 is a very busy year for Innovate UK on our dedicated automotive programmes.

In 2016/17, working with our partners at APC, OLEV and CCAV there is an impressive £110 million of NEW funding available for either projects in:

  • low carbon
  • propulsion
  • connected and autonomous vehicles

Of that, over £80 million is available in open competitions right now.

How does our investment translate into business success we can celebrate?

Our project portfolio in low carbon vehicles built over the last eight years means we are really able to demonstrate the impact we are having, and how our support is being transformed into:

  • business growth
  • productivity improvements
  • investment secured

This is a really exciting market, every major motor show is showcasing new offerings across the board in electric vehicles, and increasingly plans for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Innovate UK's Low Carbon Vehicle platform impact
Innovate UK's Low Carbon Vehicle platform impact

UK business success in low carbon vehicles

To coincide with the event we published three new success stories.

The news stories feature (with links)

  • Silverstone based Delta Motorsport, who are attracting interest as far afield as China with low-cost micro-turbine technology that can help electric cars match petrol or diesel-powered equivalents for range
  • Coventry based Impression Technologies Limited who are using Innovate UK support to develop a patented aluminium pressing process that saves weight and production costs. It is playing a vital role as a weight-saving, low emissions technology in the new Aston Martin DB11
  • Gateshead based Sevcon whose novel power converter device is attracting global interest from car manufacturers

UK minister behind low carbon vehicles

I was delighted that Climate Change and Industry Minister, Nick Hurd, joined us on the Delta stand to reveal Delta’s exciting new range extender technology. This was part of a busy morning for the Minister meeting companies and visiting the Government Pavilion.

Delta Motorsport's Technical Director Nick Carpenter and Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry Nick Hurd MP reveal Delta Motorsport's range extended electric car at the LCV2016 event

Earlier in his keynote speech, the Minister referred to an innovation-led industrial strategy which was warmly welcomed by everyone in the room.


Innovate UK stands ready to play its part with our partners to help the Government in any way we can to deliver this.

You can follow me on Twitter @SJSEdmonds

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