Aston Martin and Nissan win clean energy boost

Aston Martin and Nissan and among the beneficiaries of a cash injection into new automotive technology innovations by the UK government, writes Paul Myles.

The not-for-profit Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) based at Warwick University has awarded £35M ($46M) to three UK low carbon automotive powertrain projects, potentially creating or safeguarding nearly 1,800 UK jobs. The award is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and recently-published Road to Zero strategy from the Department for Transport and seeks to allay some recent criticism that not enough is being done to promote clean auto transport solutions. The project consortiums are made up of some of industry’s most-recognized names, including Aston Martin and Nissan and projects are claimed to have the potential to save over 3M tons CO2.

Projects include:

  • Ceres Power: Ceres will lead a project, with the support of Nissan, to develop a compact, high power density, solid oxide fuel cell specifically designed to extend the range of electric light commercial vehicles. This program addresses commercial vehicles, one of the most challenging to decarbonize aspects of the transport system and will demonstrate the scalability of the technology to other automotive segments.
  • hofer powertrain along with Aston Martin is developing a new generation of technically-advanced e-motor and inverter modules, which will be manufactured in the UK, for future high-performance vehicles. The project is expected to build the UK’s e-mobility skills base and improve productivity.

“The challenge of lowering emissions is shared by the entire automotive industry, and includes all areas of the sector,” Ian Constance, chief executive of the APC commented. “This latest round of APC funding highlights the broad range of vehicle types that will benefit from developments in low carbon innovation, with successful applicants developing technologies for commercial and off-highway vehicles, as well as the wider e-mobility industry. We expect that this approach will help to create and safeguard jobs across the UK automotive sector.”

Phil Caldwell, CEO at Ceres Power said: “This APC-funded project will develop an automotive-specification fuel cell range extender. It is the next step towards increasing the technology and manufacturing readiness of a compact, robust, fast-response SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell) stack for high volume production. APC funding enables Ceres and its partners, who are responsible for the automotive application, to jointly engineer a SOFC solution that contributes to a low carbon future.”

William Hartley, managing director at hofer powertrain UK Ltd said: “The grant awarded to hofer powertrain and partners under APC9 enables us to anchor the design and manufacture of advanced electric and hybrid drive units; power electronics and control software in the UK, alongside our transmission design and manufacture capability. It would not have been possible without APC and BEIS support.”

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