Fund brings F1 to the road

Formula 1 technology could soon make family cars lighter, improve fuel efficiency and help plug-in vehicles go further – after an innovative research project won a share of a £38.2 million government prize.

The project is one of more than 130 car manufacturers, technology companies and research centres across the country to have won a share of the money, announced in the Budget, which will create hi-tech jobs and help Britain become a global leader in exporting state of the art, emission-cutting technology.

A consortium including Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan has received £1.7 million for ‘lightweighting’ technology – applying the science behind Formula 1 cars and space satellites to make passenger cars weigh less and be more fuel efficient. The results could reduce the weight of steel components in vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf by more than half, potentially extending the distance a plug-in car can drive by up to 25%.

Transport minister, Andrew Jones said, ‘Our £38 million investment will help Britain become a world leader in this exciting and valuable technology sector, creating skilled jobs of the future as part of our long-term economic plan. It will also mean lower running costs for motorists and less fuel consumption, which is good for the environment and our economy.

‘This competition continues our £600 million commitment by 2020 to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, making journeys cheaper and greener, ensuring the nation is fit for the future.’

The winning projects were chosen following a competition launched last September encouraging companies to propose innovative ideas to cut vehicle emissions. The funding combines £30 million from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) with £8.2 million of additional funding from Innovate UK, who will support the schemes.

They will begin unveiling working prototypes by 2018 and could feature in passenger cars from 2020.

The OLEV Research and Development Fund will award funding to over 130 companies and research organisations across the UK including:

  • West Midlands: £7.6million for 36 organisations across the region, including £1.7million for a consortium led by Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan to develop ways of manufacturing composite materials making vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient.
  • East Midlands: £7.5million across 23 organisations. One consortia led by Far-UK in Nottingham is awarded £1.4million to explore how to replace steel bodies with lighter materials while maintaining the highest safety standards.
  • East of England: will receive £2.9million across 15 organisations. Controlled Power Technologies Ltd in Essex leads a consortium of 4 winning £1.8million to develop a low-cost hybrid system suitable for capturing braking energy and providing an extra boost to smaller city cars.
  • South West: £3.1m across 16 organisations. HiETA Technologies get £1.7million to lead a project developing new lighter vehicle components made from advanced aluminium alloys.
  • North East: Will receive £570,000 across five organisations including the lightweighting collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover.