New UK £100M Low-Carbon Vehicle Program Contains Funding for EV Demonstration Projects and Development

Jose Michael

The UK government is putting £100 million (US$157 million) into a new £200-million public-private investment program to speed up the introduction of new low carbon vehicles onto Britain’s roads. (Earlier post.) The UK’s Technology Strategy Board will manage the five-year program through its Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform, and it will be guided by an industry-led advisory panel.

Demonstration project. Included in that commitment, as outlined by UK Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon at an international experts meeting convened in the UK to explore the challenges of bringing electric vehicles to market, is an ultra low-carbon vehicle demonstration competition that aims to see up to 100 new innovative cars on the road in several locations around the UK by the end of 2009.

This competition has up to £10 million (US$15.7 million) of funding available and will provide a portion of the costs for business-led demonstration projects of vehicles with tailpipe emissions of 50g CO2/km or less and a significant electric-only range. Applications will be requested in January 2009. The Technology Strategy Board aims to announce the successful projects in March.

The Energy Technologies Institute will then hold a stakeholder workshop in December, to develop a second wave of demonstrations focused on understanding the requirements of the charging infrastructure, building on the early pilots of 100 innovative cars tested by ordinary motorists.

Research projects. At the same time, the government is dedicating up to £20 million to UK research into improving the technology. This follows the publication of new research which concludes that, correctly managed, the UK power system could support widespread use of electric cars and their charging needs without requiring large numbers of new power stations.

The new research competition provides up to £10 million for business-led collaborative research and development to support projects in all areas relevant to the development of enabling system and sub-system technologies to deliver more cost effective and higher performing all-electric and hybrid vehicles for mass market applications. Applications will be invited from 19 January 2009 with a deadline for expressions of interest of 26 February 2009. Project decisions will be expected in May 2009.

A second research competition is an open technology competition for wider collaborative projects covering all vehicle technologies capable of delivering large scale carbon reductions in the coming decades. This competition will have between £5 and £10 million available and applications will be invited from June 2009 with project decisions expected in November 2009. Further detail on these two competitions will be available on the Technology Strategy Board website.

A third element of research activity provides funding for the underpinning basic university-led research on lower carbon vehicle technology. This will support research relevant to lower carbon vehicles, which could potentially be taken forward into collaborative research and development activity in the future. Next year the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will be committing £3 million towards academic-led research within the Integrated Delivery Programme remit. Further details of the call and any priorities will be available when the call is announced.

Commercial EV production bids. To encourage the mass production of green vans for the first time, the Department for Transport also announced that 10 companies have been shortlisted to bid to provide electric and low carbon vans to some councils and other public sector bodies, such the Royal Mail, as part of a £20 million program to ensure all road transport emissions are reduced. Liverpool, Newcastle, Gateshead, Coventry, Glasgow and Leeds will be among the first councils to trial green vans on their streets.

The 10 companies are: Ford; Mercedes Benz; Citroen; Ashwoods; Land Rover, Modec; Smiths; Electric Vehicles; LDV; Nissan and Allied Vehicles.

Government funding for the £100 million LCVIP program comes from the Technology Strategy Board (£20 million), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (£10 million) and Department for Transport (£10 million). Major contributions have also been received from two Regional Development Agencies: the Advantage West Midlands (£30 million) and One North East (£30 million).

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