Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a £75 million competition, challenging automotive manufacturers to develop new engine technologies that will make cars more energy efficient and invigorate R&D in the UK.
The initiative will act as the pilot scheme for the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), which was announced in July and will see £1 billion injected into the UK automotive industry over the next decade. Funding will enable business to make and test low carbon technologies, ensuring the country’s place at the forefront of automotive technology.
Opening on 2 December 2013, the competition will be run by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). Entrants to the competition must form groups, consisting of at least one vehicle manufacturer, an SME and at least one supply chain company. Projects that win funding are expected to commence in April 2014.
Vince Cable said, “By 2050, very few – if any – new cars will be powered solely by the traditional internal combustion engines so it is important that the UK car industry is at the cutting edge of low carbon technologies. The Advanced Propulsion Centre, launched as part of our Industrial Strategy, will help to position the UK as a leading innovator while also securing jobs and strengthening supply chains.
“The car industry has gone from strength to strength – with one vehicle rolling off a production line somewhere in the UK every 20 seconds. But we must look at the long-term challenges and opportunities to ensure the sector continues to succeed and grow.”
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The automotive industry is constantly seeking to push the boundaries of technology, so government’s £75 million competition, and the additional funding to follow, will enable the UK to capitalise on its engineering expertise and develop the new technologies of the future.”
With the launch of the APC, government and industry hopes to position the UK as hub for research and development, and a key location for powertrain development and production. Under the guidance of the Automotive Council, it will invest £500 million over the next 10 years in promising products, processes and people, and will provide a physical space for collaboration and innovation.
Mr Cable also took the opportunity to announce £1.5m funding for a project to test driverless vehicles in a pedestrianised area of Milton Keynes. 20 driver-operated ‘pods’ will be introduced to designated pathways in 2015, making way for 100 autonomous vehicles by mid-2017.