Formula 1 technology could be making family cars lighter as soon as next decade - improving fuel efficiency and helping plug-in vehicles go further.
A consortium including Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan has received £1.7M from the government for “light weighting” technology - applying the science behind Formula 1 racing cars and space satellites to make passenger cars weigh less and be more fuel efficient.
The results could reduce the weight of steel components in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf by more than half, potentially extending the distance a plug-in car can drive by up to 25%.
The project was one of more than 130 from car manufacturers, technology companies and research centres across the country to win a share of £38M announced in the Budget to create hi-tech jobs.
Working prototypes will be unveiled from 2018 and the technology could feature in passenger cars from 2020.
Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “Our £38M investment will help Britain become a world leader in this exciting and valuable technology sector, creating skilled jobs of the future as part of our long-term economic plan. It will also mean lower running costs for motorists and less fuel consumption, which is good for the environment and our economy.
“This competition continues our £600M commitment by 2020 to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, making journeys cheaper and greener, ensuring the nation is fit for the future.”
The winning projects were chosen following a competition launched last September encouraging companies to propose innovative ideas to cut vehicle emissions. The funding combines £30M from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles with £8.2M of additional funding from Innovate UK.
Innovate UK head of transport Roland Meister said: “UK businesses have a great opportunity to be at the leading edge of the global drive to increase efficiency and reduce emissions from our vehicles. This £38M of government support means that more than 130 innovative organisations right across the country now have the chance to get their ideas off the drawing board and potentially into the cars and trucks of the future, boosting the economy by at least £532M in the process.”
Funding technology: Where the £38M is going
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles Research & Development Fund will award cash to more than 130 companies and research organisations across the UK including:
West Midlands: £7.6M for 36 organisations across the region, including £1.7M for the consortium led by Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan.
Yorkshire and the Humber: £4.4M across 12 organisations. A team led by Sheffield-based Faradion received £1.3M to significantly reduce the cost of electric vehicle batteries by using cheaper sodium-ion technology, while a collaboration between Magnomatics and the University of Sheffield will develop a more efficient transmission system using magnets.
South East: £5.6M across 20 organisations. A team led by Horsham-based Ceres Power received £770,000 to test new fuel cells extending the range of electric vans.
East Midlands: £7.5M across 23 organisations. One consortia led by Far-UK in Nottingham was awarded £1.4M to explore how to replace steel bodies with lighter materials.
Scotland: £2.5M across seven organisations. A team led by Sunamp from near Edinburgh will transform chilled or frozen food fleets using ‘thermal store’ technology to minimise battery power needed up to keep food deliveries fresh.
North West: £1.7M across seven organisations. A team including Clean Air Power from Lancashire will seek to apply greener dual-fuel technology to HGVs, cutting emissions on freight deliveries.
East of England: £2.9M across 15 organisations. A consortium led by Essex-based Controlled Power Technologies in Essex won £1.8M to develop a low-cost hybrid system suitable for capturing braking energy and providing an extra boost to smaller city cars.
Greater London: £2.2M across 11 organisations. A team led by Advanced Design Technology will develop thermal recovery kits that capture waste heat from the exhaust and turn it into electricity.
South West: £3.1M across 16 organisations. HiETA Technologies secured £1.7M to lead a project developing new lighter vehicle components made from advanced aluminium alloys.
North East: Will receive £570,000 across five organisations, including the light weighting collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover.