Projects receive £80m boost

Projects that will bring fuel cells into van fleets, develop high efficiency transmissions and create the next generation of electric and hybrid buses are among the latest to receive money from the joint £1 billion government and industry fund.

Business secretary Vince Cable announced £80 million of new investment for the four new projects through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

These include a new generation of electric and hybrid buses to be developed by Wrightbus and its partners in Northern Ireland who will receive a grant of £4.3m in a £8.6m programme. A £6.3m grant for a hydrogen fuel cell range extender for electric light commercial vehicle fleets in a joint £12.7m project led by Intelligent Energy.

A high efficiency transmission and electric drive by hofer powertrain UK will receive £16.4m in a £32.8m programme, as well as £13m to develop innovative technologies for UK built diesel engines for off-highway use and exported worldwide by Perkins Engines Company Limited in a £25.1m project with its partners.

Since start-up in 2014, the APC has now committed investment for ten low carbon propulsion projects that will safeguard development and manufacturing jobs in the UK.

Business secretary Vince Cable said, ‘Green technology is needed to drive the cars of the future, and British designers and manufacturers must continue to lead innovators in this field. With projects as diverse as developing high efficiency transmissions to creating a new generation of electric and hybrid buses, the Advanced Propulsion Centre is one of the driving forces behind the development of new technology to fuel the green engines of the future, enabling our car industry to be truly world beating.’

The joint industry and government investment through the APC is selected by twice-yearly funding competitions. Bids will soon be welcomed from project teams to access a further £100 million which will be committed in the autumn of 2015.

Chief executive Tony Pixton said, ‘The Advanced Propulsion Centre is on target to create and secure 30,000 UK jobs over the next decade, cutting CO2 emissions through new technology developed in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to be exported worldwide.

‘The successful collaboration between industry and government through the Automotive Council has created the APC and shows the UK’s commitment to be a global leader in low carbon propulsion systems development and production.

‘We encourage all companies to start discussions with potential partners now in order to be ready for the next round of grant funding available later this year.’