Arup is to lead a project to develop and test 110 low-carbon cars and vehicles in the West Midlands.
The Technology Strategy Board - the government body which promotes business innovation in technology awarded the Arup-led CABLED consortium the contract which will explores all aspects of the infrastructure needed to make electric vehicles a mass-market reality. The work will focus on Birmingham and Coventry.
The competition is part of the Government’s programme to encourage the use of electric cars.
CABLED comprises 13 organisations including vehicle manufacturers, local authorities, energy infrastructure providers and universities. As project manager, Arup will draw on its expertise in vehicle design, planning, infrastructure, and energy.
The project will run over two years with people from all walks of life testing a range of vehicle types - from taxis to small cars. Tracking the use of the cars and vehicles will enable further research and development of ultra low carbon vehicles, with an aim to accelerate their mass introduction onto the UK’s roads.
“Less than 1% of the vehicles registered every year in the UK are electric and most of these are currently used in London,” said John Miles, chair of Arup’s global Energy, Resources and Industry Market.
“We think that by 2020, low carbon cars will be commercially viable, and it’s important that we start to understand the public’s reaction and provide the necessary infrastructure to prepare for this.”
“This project will bring a large number of vehicles to the streets of the West Midlands. It will begin to examine the points where the vehicles meet the built environment - energy generation, battery charging and driver behaviour. This is an important first step on our road to a low-carbon future.”
The Technology Strategy Board is working with business to speed up the development of low carbon vehicles, towards the point where they become a practical reality and UK business can benefit from the future commercial opportunities.
The winning projects receive a total of £25M from the Government as part of an ongoing commitment to invest jointly with the industry to speed up the introduction of low carbon vehicles. This will support the investment already made by the consortia themselves and is the most significant step to date in the UK of a co-ordinated move towards low carbon transport.
To meet the UK’s commitment to an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050, the carbon output of transport - currently a quarter of all UK emissions - has to be significantly reduced. The vehicles that we drive need to be part of the solution.
The journey towards low carbon transport will not be easy, but the demonstrator programme, which we are launching is a major step in the right direction. With over 340 cars being trialled in several regions across the UK, and with the involvement of large and small manufacturers, RDAs, local authorities, universities and infrastructure companies, it is the biggest project of its kind to date.
The CABLED consortium
The West Midlands consortium, called CABLED - short for Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrators - is made up of 13 organisations and led by Arup. The consortium will develop and demonstrate 110 road-worthy vehicles to be trialled in the two cities over 12 months. Part funding for the project has been requested from the regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands.
Each of the six vehicle manufacturers - Jaguar/Land Rover, Mitsubishi/Colt, Mercedes Benz/Smart, Tata Motors, LTI and Microcab Industries - are contributing their own vehicles towards the low carbon scheme, which includes a mix of fully electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars.
Electricity providers Eon are delivering charging points for the trial with assistance from the city councils of Birmingham and Coventry.
Three of the Midland’s leading universities play a major role in the scheme with Coventry University undertaking the selection process of drivers, Aston University analysing vehicle usage data and the University of Birmingham contributing access and expertise gained from its hydrogen fuelling station, which is currently one of the very few of its kind in UK. A new hydrogen station is planned for Coventry University.