• Winner 2015
  • Judges
  • Previous winners
  • Criteria and rules
  • Award supporters
  • FAQs

The Transport Systems Catapult is the winner of 2015’s Automotive Award for Innovation, for its LUTZ Pathfinder project. The two-seater electric pods will provide public transport along pedestrian routes, such as between train stations and city centres. The real-world trial of the pods in Milton Keynes will significantly boost the UK’s international reputation for R&D while bringing fully autonomous vehicles one step closer.

Catapult Lutz Pathfinder-135


Self-driving vehicles are expected to bring massive benefits for road users, including reduced accident and congestion levels, improved air quality, and greater mobility access, but there is still much work to be done.

The LUTZ Pathfinder trial of three electric-powered automated pods in pedestrianised areas of Milton Keynes was set up to accelerate that work, and to help ensure that the UK stays at the forefront of this exciting field.

Overseen by the Transport Systems Catapult on behalf of the Automotive Council, the pods are the result of a multi-team collaboration: the University of Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group, Coventry-based manufacturer RDM, and Milton Keynes Council.

Designed from scratch for automated driving, the two-seater pods are equipped with a wide range of sensors – including stereo cameras, lidar and radar-based detectors – enabling them to navigate without GPS or other external sources.

As well as trialling the future technology requirements for fully autonomous vehicles, LUTZ Pathfinder is also examining public attitudes towards the technology, and considering the legislative barriers that still have to be overcome before these vehicles can enter the mainstream.

Funding has been secured for the next level of trials, with findings from the LUTZ Pathfinder project feeding into the larger-scale UK Autodrive programme which will oversee a three-year trial in Milton Keynes and Coventry, involving a fleet of 40 automated pods along with seven regular road-based cars.

Runners up

Evolute Drives CMYKEvolute Drives: MSYS Transmission

Evolute Drives develops innovative automotive transmission and driveline solutions for the next generation of hybrid and electric vehicles.  Its first product is a patented multi-speed transmission technology called MSYS  and originally developed by sister consultancy company, Drive System Design.

A multi-speed transmission removes the compromise between gradient and high speed capability and allows the electric motor to run more often at lower speeds, eliminating field weakening power loss worth around 18% reduction in energy consumption. It also allows the power electronics and the electric motor itself to be smaller and use less material, so is produced at lower cost.

A particular technical challenge with multi-speed systems, overcome by MSYS technology, is changing gear automatically without affecting passenger comfort  or using power to hold the transmission in gear. The MSYS transmission overcomes this power loss by providing a seamless power shift that requires no energy to hold in gear – because the patented innovation in the system and primary USP is that it latches once the shift is completed.

Evolute Drives is also supported by its low volume production partner, The Proving Factory®, which can supply initial volumes of up to 20,000 units per annum from its advanced assembly facility in Coventry. The product will be licensed to Tier 1 and vehicle OEMs to achieve higher volumes.


Copy of DAF LOGO and A PACCAR COMPANY Leyland Trucks: DAF FTCC Research Project

The DAF FTCC (Future Truck Chassis Concept) research project investigated a new lightweight chassis concept for a 7.5t to 12t gross vehicle weight truck. This Proof of Concept project delivered 30% weight reduction compared with today’s DAF LF chassis and body sub frame, achieved by the extensive use of aluminium material, bonded fixing technologies and applying related technologies like independent front air suspension and rack and pinion steering. The DAF LF key product attributes, such as competitive load deck height, turning circle, body start position and general manoeuvrability were retained.

DAF’s FTCC vehicle was designed, developed and built by Leyland Trucks in close cooperation with Sapa Profiles UK which supported the design and manufacture of the aluminum extrusions used, and CSA Group’s assistance with validation of the truck through rig based testing. The project, co-funded by Innovate UK, delivered a significant unladen weight saving of 500kg which could mean a 3%-6% fuel saving for the vehicle operator.

During the project a number of new design concepts were created and patents have been applied for to cover these innovative features. The designs were subjected to rig tests to build durability and confidence in the technology developed. A vehicle has been produced to exhibit these features  and the vehicle was subjected to dynamic vehicle ride and handling assessment as part of the task.




Oxford Advanced Surfaces: Onto™ SB1000 Adhesion Promoters

Oxford Advanced Surfaces has developed an effective, practical and scalable solution to joining mixed materials in automotive manufacturing.

Environmental regulations are forcing OEMs to innovate radically their vehicle designs, with lighter structures being one way of reducing fuel emissions. Innovations like hybrid drive trains and batteries for electric vehicles are also key to achieving emission targets, but these add extra weight to the vehicle and must be offset. The consequent requirement for lightweighting has led to the introduction of advanced materials in the design of vehicle structures.

Capital investment in existing processing machinery for traditional materials like steel, coupled with the higher material prices of composites, creates an economic need for a mixed materials strategy, combining metals, composites and plastics in vehicle design. This brings challenges for effective adhesive bonding when surface preparation of one or both materials being jointed is required.

Based on its unique proprietary surface modification technology, Oxford Advanced Surfaces has designed a series of adhesion promoters called Onto™ SB1000 to prepare the surfaces of advanced materials for adhesive bonding. It is effective on metallic and non-metallic substrates, including automotive engineering polymers like nylon, reinforced plastic composites, such as carbon fibre epoxy, and lightweight metals like aluminium.

Onto™ SB1000 can easily be integrated into existing automated production processes. It requires standard industrial coating and curing equipment for processing, keeping capital expenditure to a minimum and isdesigned for reduced environmental impact.



ZeroLight: ZeroLight Digital 3D Car Configurator

Vehicle manufacturers face a long process to bring new cars to market with minimal customer engagement and their dealers tackle a high cost-of-business that requires growing investment. For an increasing percentage of customers accustomed to the instant, connected nature of modern retail, it’s a low quality experience and with increasing levels of customisable, feature-rich cars the situation is ready for change.

ZeroLight addresses these challenges through the digitalisation of automotive retail. Its digital 3D car configurator is an advanced vehicle demonstration solution that has the potential to transform automotive retailing. Using proprietary visualisation technology, customers interact with a live, 3D scene to explore and customise a car. Exploring the vehicle at a level of graphical quality and interactivity never previously possible, customers can see the car from any perspective and view the full range of colours, finishes, options and accessories.

As an omnichannel solution, flagship stores, traditional dealerships and new digital-format stores in urban, high footfall areas can use ZeroLight to power 4K Ultra HD screens, touch screens, tablets, virtual reality headsets and the web, enabling a consistent digital experience regardless of location.

Frost & Sullivan predicts that up to $5bn will be invested in the digitalisation of showrooms by the end of 2016 and ZeroLight, a UK based technology start-up, is a global leader in enabling this revolution.

A panel of leading industry experts will judge the Automotive Award for Innovation 2015. The panel includes:

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT

Mike Hawes became SMMT Chief Executive on 2 September 2013. He has more than 20 years’ experience in policy and public affairs, the majority of which have been spent in the motor industry. He joined SMMT from Bentley Motors where he held a number of PR, corporate and public affairs roles. Prior to that, he worked for both Toyota and, more recently, Bentley’s parent company, Volkswagen AG, where he developed the European and global knowledge needed for this challenging role.



Rob Genway-Haden, Global Chief Engineer, GKN Driveline

GKN Rob Genway Haden_editRob joined GKN in 1988 as a graduate-in-training with assignments in product development, purchasing and manufacturing in the UK and Germany, moving to GKN Driveline in 1996. For the past 12 years he has been heavily involved in the development of GKN’s torque and all-wheel drive products, spending a number of years in the US. He returned to the UK in 2014, where he leads the global engineering function for JLR, Volvo and PSA.

Throughout his 27-year career Rob has developed a broad knowledge of GKN, its customers´ and competitors´ driveline technology and business models. Rob has a master´s degree in acoustics, noise and vibration from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and a bachelor´s degree in mechanical engineering from Nottingham Trent University in England. He has 19 published patents, of which four are granted.


Jon Beasley, Director of Technology and Projects, the Advanced Propulsion Centre

APC Jon Beasley BW edit

Jon Beasley has more than 29 years’ experience in the motor industry working for multinational suppliers and on government and industry programmes. Jon held various leadership roles within GKN, including Group Technology Officer and Driveline Chief Engineer for Aston Martin, Daewoo, Ford Europe, Honda, JLR, Mazda and Volvo. He has worked with the Automotive Council since its creation in 2009 and has figured prominently within the Technology Group.
Jon has experience of future transport systems through his role as Programme Director for the Transport Systems Catapult during the critical start-up phase. At the APC, Jon’s key focus is development and management of the projects funded through the competitions, bringing his technical experience of global product development.


Robert Lea, Industrial Editor, The Times

Robert has been a business journalist for more than 20 years and at The Times covers the automotive, transportation, engineering and manufacturing industries as well as industrial relations and business policy.




Richard Hill, Head of Automotive and Manufacturing, NatWest

RichardHillLombardRichard is a prominent figurehead in the Automotive industry, having worked in the sector for over 25 years. Richard’s previous roles include Marketing Manager at Rover Group; Brand and Marketing Manager at BMW Financial Services and Group Sales Director at Manheim Europe. Richard joined Lombard in 2005 as Head of Sales at Lombard Vehicle Management; and subsequently lead the Automotive Corporate Sectors team from 2010. He is now Head of the new Automotive and Manufacturing sector within CPB. Richard continues to work closely with industry, representing the banking industry on the main UK Automotive Council, and leading the Access to Finance work stream.





Jon Excell, Editor, The Engineer

Jon Excell The EngineerJon is editor of The Engineer, the UK’s longest running technology news magazine, and has been working as a science and technology journalist for almost two decades. A passionate champion of UK engineering, he regularly covers technical innovation across all of the key engineering sectors.



Previous winners

2014: Torotrak Group Flybrid KERS

A UK-designed, Formula 1-inspired energy recovery system for buses claimed first prize in the prestigious SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation 2014.

Torotrak Group’s Flybrid KERS for buses and commercial vehicles uses a fully mechanical system to store energy from a vehicle’s motion, which can be transferred back to the drive system to power the vehicle. It beat stiff competition from the Dearman Engine Company and Jaguar Land Rover, both of which received Highly Commended status.

2013: Ford 1.0 EcoBoost engine

Hailed as the future of engine technology and designed, developed and engineered in Essex, Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost engine – found in hundreds of thousands of cars across the UK – was crowned winner of the SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation in 2013.

The efficient 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine, which uses a power-boosting turbocharger to deliver performance to beat that of a more conventional 1.6-litre unit, started life at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre in Essex.

Commenting on the win, Graham Hoare, Ford’s Director of Global Vehicle Evaluation and Verification, said, “On behalf of the 1,000-plus highly-skilled Ford powertrain engineers involved in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost programme, we’re all delighted with this prestigious recognition.

“In 2007, the engineering teams at Dunton and Dagenham took on the challenge to produce a cutting-edge three-cylinder petrol engine – exciting, durable and efficient enough for both cars and commercial vehicles. Six years on, and with over 300,000 global sales, two back-to-back International Engine of the Year titles, and now this major innovation award, we couldn’t be more proud.”

2012: Optare Versa EV

Optare_image 1

Bus manufacturer Optare scooped the 2012 award with its all-electric Versa EV.

Developed from the 27-seater Optare Solo EV that was launched in 2010, the Versa EV is the UK’s first fully operational, full-sized, battery-powered electric bus. Designed and engineered at Optare’s exclusive UK facility in North Yorkshire, the Versa EV boasts impressive environmental credentials with zero tailpipe emissions and reduced noise and is capable of carrying around 50 passengers.

Glenn Saint, Deputy CEO of Optare plc, said, “Winning the SMMT award is a major boost to our efforts to make electric buses an integral part of the UK transport infrastructure. It significantly raises awareness amongst key audiences leading to an increase in enquiries, both from domestic and international markets, and has confirmed our status as the UK’s leader in the field of low carbon buses.”

2011: Jaguar Land Rover Range_e


Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) won the 2011 award for its prototype Range_e – the world’s first luxury plug-in hybrid electric 4×4 with integrated V6 diesel engine. With an electric motor replacing the torque converter in the eight-speed automatic gearbox, the Range_e emits just 89g/km CO2 on the combined cycle.

Picking up the Award, Peter Richings, Chief Engineer, Hybrids, JLR, said, “Innovation and technology are the lifeblood of our business and we are delighted that our work has earned this recognition from our industry peers. Range_e demonstrates the advances we are making in cleaner and more fuel-efficient performance without compromising the performance and all-wheel-drive capabilities that are at the heart of our brand and we look forward to bringing its benefits to the market in the near future.

“The award for the Range_e project is testament to the range of skills, excellence and enthusiasm of not just our own engineers and designers, but the people in the research and academic organisations in the UK that have supported them.”

2010: Gordon Murray Design iStream

Yamaha Motiv

Gordon Murray Design’s revolutionary iStream manufacturing process was the first ever winner of SMMT’s Award for Automotive Innovation in 2010. Billed as “potentially the biggest revolution in high volume manufacture since the Model T”, iStream is based around a simplified assembly operation that allows the car manufacturing plant to be a mere 20% of the size of a regular facility. Since receiving the award, iStream has been incorporated into the 2013 Yamaha Motiv concept car (above).

Receiving the award in 2010, Gordon Murray said, “Awards like the Award for Automotive Innovation are really important for small start-up companies like ours. There are established innovators in the UK that get a lot of press coverage, but it’s always helpful to get recognition, especially when you are trying to do something which is not conventional, in order to gain people’s attention.”


To register for updates about the 2014 Award for Automotive Innovation, e-mail updateinnovationaward@smmt.co.uk.

Please read the following carefully.

The Award criteria

The Automotive Award for Innovation recognises new and existing products, technologies, processes, or systems, developed within the UK, which demonstrate exemplary R&D and have the potential to transform the automotive industry.

Entry is free and open to any manufacturer, supplier, or developer, whether as an individual, team, department, or a submission on behalf of an organisation, provided there is a link with the UK sector. However, all submissions must already have the intellectual and copyright permissions agreed before being submitted, as required by the Rules.

Entrants must be able to demonstrate that they have developed an innovative product, technology, system, or process that has, or could transform the UK automotive industry for the better.

Award rules

  1. These rules (‘Rules’) govern the ‘SMMT Innovation Award’ (the ‘Award’).
  2. The Award is administered through the website address www.smmt.co.uk/aai (‘Website’) and is administered by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited (‘SMMT’).
  3. Your attention is drawn to the Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (separate documents.)
  4. Entry for the Award is by completing and submitting the entry form on the Website. Entrants are advised to read the Entry Guidelines and FAQs accompanying the entry form on the Website. By submitting your entry, you agree to be bound by these rules, the Website Terms of Use, the Privacy Policy and the Entry Guidelines.
  5. The closing date for entries is midnight on 28 August 2015 – NOTE: the deadline has now been extended to midnight on 7 September 2015. Entries received after this date will not be entered into the judging process.
  6. The Award is open to SMMT members and non-members, in the United Kingdom. Entries should be for innovations created no earlier than 01 January 2010.
  7. All necessary permissions relating to intellectual property ownership (including copyright) required from third parties should be obtained by the entrant prior to an entry being submitted for the Award and evidence of such permissions shall be provided to SMMT where relevant. SMMT reserves the right to exclude an entry from the Award should it be made aware of any such permissions not having been obtained.
  8. Neither the sponsors of the Award nor the employer of any of the judges will be permitted to submit an entry for the Award.
  9. Entries for the Award should be no more than 2,000 words. This should explain what the innovation is and how it will benefit the automotive industry in the United Kingdom.
  10. Receipt of entries will be acknowledged by return e-mail. A panel of judges will assess each entry. A shortlist of at least four entries will be created, which will be notified to the shortlisted entrants by week commencing 14 September 2015.
  11. There will be one overall winner of the Award (‘Winner’). The Winner will be announced at the 99th SMMT Annual Dinner on 24 November 2015 (‘Annual Dinner’), to which the Winner will be invited.
  12. Any decision of SMMT as to eligibility to take part in the Award or the result of the Award will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  13. The Winner and any runners-up may be required to take part in non-paid publicity or advertising relating to the Award or the Annual Dinner, which may include having photographs and video interviews taken for promotional and press purposes and for presentation on the Website.
  14. By entering the Award, the Winner and any runners-up consent to details of their entries being presented on the Website by way of video or photographic display.
  15. SMMT reserves the right to delay, postpone or cancel the Award in the event of circumstances outside its reasonable control, which it considers make it necessary for it to do so.
  16. SMMT reserves the right to clarify the Rules, in the event of any possible ambiguity or misinterpretation, and in such circumstances, notice will be made on the Website. The Rules are subject to English law. Any disputes must be referred to the English courts.

© SMMT Ltd 2015. All rights reserved.

We are delighted to have support from the following:

Our partner

apc logoThe Automotive Council created the Advanced Propulsion Centre as a £1 billion platform to provide momentum for the specific opportunities identified by government and industry in the UK. At its heart, the focus of the organisation is to capitalise on and further develop the UK’s expertise in propulsion systems R&D, the successful exploitation of which will lead to the manufacture of products that safeguard or increase UK automotive jobs and accelerate the reduction in CO2 emissions from transportation.
The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) is an industry wide collaboration with government, academia, innovators and producers of low carbon propulsion systems. It facilitates and supports partnerships between those who have good ideas and those who have a desire to bring them to market.

The services provided by the APC enable projects which provide profitable growth and sustainable opportunities for the partners involved, and build the UK supply chain and employment. The APC’s activities will build the UK’s capability as a Propulsion Nation and contribute to the country’s economic prosperity.

The APC has created a partnership with the SMMT Automotive Award for Innovation as it is a natural collaboration to promote opportunities for the development and production of technology in the UK.

Our sponsor

GKN Driveline

GKN Driveline develops and integrates highly-engineered, intelligent conventional and electrified driveline solutions. From city to sports cars and advanced all-wheel drive to refined hybrids, GKN delivers the driveline systems that redefine vehicle segments and create new, brand-aligned, driving experiences.
Our technology features on over half of the cars produced across the world; examples include our eAxles on the BMW i8 and Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid supercars, and our disconnecting all-wheel drive systems on the Jeep Renegade and Range Rover Evoque.

GKN’s driveline systems deliver power from the engine to wheel in the most efficient, economical and reliable way possible. Our systems integration and vehicle optimization expertise ensures vehicles can be tuned to meet OEMs’ specific requirements. With 46 manufacturing sites across 22 countries, GKN Driveline employs 26,500 people globally.






What is the deadline for entries?
The deadline for entry submissions has been extended from 28 August 2015 to a new deadline of midnight on 7 September 2015. Postal and online entries received after this date will not be accepted.

How many words can my entry be?
Submissions are required to be no more than 2,000 words in length, with 5MB additional supportive material, if required.

How will I know whether I have been shortlisted?
SMMT will contact all shortlisted candidates during the week commencing 14 September 2015. If you have not been contacted at the end of this week, then your submission has not been shortlisted.

If I entered the competition last year, can I still submit an entry this year?

Is the submission limited to one per person or per organisation?
There is no limit to the number of entries that can be made by one person or by one organisation.

How can I register for updates regarding my progress in the competition?
You can register for updates by e-mailing updateautomotiveaward@smmt.co.uk.

Can I submit an existing or new innovation on behalf of a company?
Yes. However, all submissions must already have the intellectual and copyright permissions agreed before being submitted as required by the Rules.

Who can I contact if I have any problems or questions about my submission?
If you have any queries about this award or submitting an entry for this Award, please contact automotiveaward@smmt.co.uk.

Where can I download an application form?

Click here to download an application form.