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The challenge of creating a UK vehicle battery industry

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, ISCF, Support

Regulation on the emissions from internal combustion engines, actual and planned market disruption from Tesla (and Dyson, Google and others) and technological advances in electric powertrains and batteries are driving a surge of demand for electric vehicles (EVs).

45% growth in electric vehicle sales

As Co-Interim Directors for the Faraday Battery Challenge, we are regularly asked, “how will the UK be able to get the right answer when others are further ahead in the market?”  And this is a sensible question.

We saw worldwide sales of pure electric vehicles grew by 45% last year and we saw commitments from a number of the big car companies not to make internal combustion engine cars from 2030 onwards.

There is an estimated £5bn market opportunity in the UK and £50bn across Europe by 2025.

Neon style image of electric car and power supply in a loop around the car. Black background with neon blue image.

Where is the overall electric vehicle technology winner?

The recent report on Trends in Electric-vehicle Design in October 2017 by McKinsey & Company very clearly articulates the issue for the EV market.

By physically disassembling 10 first and second generation EVs (models and makes representing about 40% of the pure-battery powered EVs ever produced) they concluded that there is still no overall technology winner.

When you break down the battery, battery cells and the thermal management system, you just can’t yet identify which technology is better for mass-market EVs.

£246m UK taxpayer investment

This underlines what we know.  That original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are investing, and are going to need to continue to invest, in this unknown space.  So it is right to ask why then invest £246m of UK taxpayer’s money into this technology void?

Black and white image of a man holding a large rosette with the word 'Best' in the centre of the rosette.

Making the UK the best

The programme therefore is designed to make the UK the best place to find this answer.

We are bringing together a UK team to build on our strengths in automotive manufacturing and design, battery science and materials research. This step is already attracting global EV supply chain players and creating interest in the non-Automotive sector like Aerospace and Rail.  New battery technology will benefit far more than the car market in the UK.

electric car image made out of green felt

The Faraday Battery Challenge is designed to inspire the growth of new technologies, companies and skill development by investing in the following:

  • £78m in application-led research

The independent, national Faraday Institution which sponsors and manages mission-driven research on electrical storage.  This is a charitable trust managed for the benefit of UK PLC with no privileged owners.  It will invest ~£20m/year to fund research and training in universities and partners.

This Institution will be solving identified industry defined technology problems, directly connected to industry, bringing large teams to bear. Short and long-term. This is additional to and different from exploratory science research.  This will be the team scanning the horizons for new and competing tech for the UK to consider and respond to.

  • £88m in collaborative research and development

Building on the research going on in the Faraday Institution and supporting development and innovation to translate scientific, engineering or manufacturing research into a proof of concept demonstration, funding competitions will bring forward industry-led activity between academic, technology providers, future supply chain companies.

These projects will be key to the UK developing along the technology roadmap to the battery technology of the future.  Including outputting one-of-a-kind prototypes and demonstrating the feasibility of new technologies.

  • £80m in a National Battery Manufacturing and Development Facility

Springboarding from the research from the Faraday Institution and built to provide the open-access facility for successful new products and processes from the CR&D competitions - is the new National Battery Manufacturing and Development Facility based in the Midlands.  This was announced on the 29th November 2017.

Here we will support real world manufacturing engineering processes and complete the battery R&D ecosystem.  And as an engineer (Jacqui), it encourages me greatly that here, we will be developing the manufacturing tools and methods for mass production and running demonstrators at production rates.  This will ensure we can test reliability and quality and most importantly foster the skills we need in battery technology to be a nation fit for the future challenge.

Together, we want to make the UK the most exciting place to discover new and better batteries for electric vehicles.

The Faraday Battery Challenge is one of the Industrial Strategy Challenges – the Industrial Strategy will create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK.

#FaradayInspires - you can follow the conversation using this hashtag.

Follow Jacqui on Twitter @jacquimurray25 







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