February 23, 2012

Working Towards a Low Carbon Future

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Tuesday marked the end of the active R&D phase of the two year Low Carbon Vehicle Technology Project (LCVTP), with a full day of presentations, knowledge transfer and networking opportunities here at WMG.

Funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund as well as industry contribution, the £29 million project was managed by WMG and run in collaboration with partners Jaguar Land Rover, Mira, Ricardo, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, Zytek Automotive and Coventry University.

The aim was to create the required R&D capability and capacity for the development of key low and ultra-low carbon vehicle technologies, safeguard jobs in the region's automotive supply chain and play a key role in making the West Midlands a global centre of excellence in low carbon vehicle engineering.

With so many delegates in attendance the organisers were forced to move venue into WMG's largest auditorium where Dr Alistair Keddie, Chair of the project's Steering Group welcomed everyone. It was good to hear from him that the project had achieved impressive results which had recently been independently evaluated and the team had been declared to have significantly acheived all technical objectives.

Robert Evans, CEO of Cenex, gave an interesting keynote speech on why programmes like LCVTP matter, citing two main drivers: 1) Environmental - climate change concerns and regulations and 2) Economic - industry competitiveness and customer demand. He believed that energy efficiency and security, particularly in relation to fuel supply, would be of the utmost importance in the future and the automotive industry needed to protect itself by ensuring it was competitive and had the required capabilities through growing SMEs, Centres of Excellence and of course the new High Value Manufacturing Catapult of which WMG is a member. The new Catapult will have an important role in leveraging the findings from the R&D and getting them through to market.

Gavin Bottrell, Project Manager at WMG, informed us that 40 different companies and suppliers had been involved in the project, creating 405 new skills, 38 business assists and £12.5 million knock on investment for the design and manufacture of low carbon vehicles. By 2014 it will have created £36 million in value added to the project partners. A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study has also shown that if several of the key technologies developed by the project were to be incorporated into a large luxury saloon car, CO2 emissions would be cut by up to 20%.

Even thought the active phase of the project is now at an end, partners are continuing to take the knowledge and new processes into their own product development. Project Director, John O'Connor, explained that WMG would be continuing its work on batteries, power electronics, lightweighting and HMI through the new High Value Manufacturing Catapult. He also highlighted the importance of stepping out of the automotive box to work with goverment on energy policies and also alongside the energy companies themselves.

If you are interested in other events on these themes - efficient transport, lightweighting and energy efficient powertrains - then the UK Trade and Investment are holding Sert 2012 on Wednesday 21 March and Thursday 22 March 2012 at the Henry Ford College, Loughborough.

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