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LCV2013 conference – UK low carbon vehicle initiatives and organisations

lcv-2013-seminar-crop.jpg Many different presentations at LCV made reference to the same term: ‘The valley of death’. This refers to the period when new technologies have completed the early stages of development, but before they are ready for production – which is the time when many new technologies fall into ‘the valley of death’, often due to lack of sufficient investment. If car makers such as Jaguar Land Rover don’t have the confidence in new low carbon technology products from the UK then they will simply go back to their existing tier 1 suppliers. Unfortunately many tier 1 suppliers left the UK in past years.

So the valley of death needs a bridge, and in order to try and address this problem, and help both individual companies and the UK as a whole gain economic benefit from the huge opportunity presented by ultra-low carbon vehicles, a number of strategies and initiatives have been developed, which were presented at LCV2013. We will now attempt to summarise the key strategies, initiatives and organisations that will help the UK develop as a leader in low carbon vehicle technology.

Ultra low emissions vehicles strategy


Transport Minister Norman Baker launched the government’s strategy to drive forward the ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry, entitled Driving the future today – a strategy for ultra low emission vehicles in the UK


The government’s long-term strategic approach will deliver:

  • a growing fleet of, and private markets for, ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs)
  • a network of charging points and other infrastructure making ULEVs an attractive proposition
  • the development of world class skills and facilities for the development of ULEV technologies leading to global export
  • a smarter electricity grid to benefit vehicle owners and the electricity system

Green Car Guide editor Paul Clarke interviewed Norman Baker at LCV2013 and he stated that he was certain that, with the new strategy together with other initiatives, the UK is well ahead of other countries in the area of ultra-low emission vehicles.

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Advanced Propulsion Centre

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) is a new concept for a ‘centre of excellence’ to develop low carbon technologies. At the moment the idea has been given the go-ahead but the details are still being worked out. It will have a physical location, but it will also be a virtual hub for collaboration.

Over recent years there have been various technology demonstrators, many funded by the Technology Strategy Board, but the risk is that such ideas fall into the ‘valley of death’ before reaching the production stage. The APC’s aim is to help pull such projects through to production. In the process it is hoped that much R&D capability that has moved overseas along with many tier 1 suppliers can be rebuilt in the UK, and that smaller UK suppliers can grow to tier 1 size.

The Advanced Propulsion Centre featured in the government’s recent Automotive Sector Strategy, and an investment of £1bn has been earmarked (£500m from government match funded by industry).

Expected to open in 2014, the APC will look to develop, commercialise and enable the manufacture of advanced propulsion technologies in the UK following strategic direction from the Automotive Council, its work stream and members.

The APC is backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain companies, and is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain. With a supply chain yet to be developed for this next generation of technologies, the APC represents an opportunity for the UK to build a global competitive advantage.

The Proving Factory

Unlike the APC, the Proving Factory has already been established, in January 2013. The Proving Factory is a unique manufacturing, assembly and validation organisation for the UK automotive industry, credibly bridging the current market ‘gap’ between technology developers making innovative, low carbon prototypes and the needs of vehicle manufacturers for volume supply.

Catapult Centres

The Technology Strategy Board’s ‘Catapults’ are yet another initiative to help speed up the development of low carbon technologies, by giving access to knowledge, collaboration, and equipment. These catapults have already been established, in the form of seven physical centres around the UK, which are designed to ‘catapult’ forward the development of certain key technologies, many of which have applications in the low carbon automotive industry.

The location of the Transport Systems Catapult has been confirmed as Milton Keynes, chosen for its ease of access to the transport community, an accessible, skilled talent pool with relevant expertise, convenient travel times both domestically and internationally and the availability of high quality business space.

With £50m of direct TSB funding over five years along with an additional £100m from private sector business and collaborative R&D projects, the Catapult will aim to provide a national hub for transport modelling and monitoring, allowing UK businesses to develop effective and sustainable solutions to transport needs.

Technology Strategy Board

The Technology Strategy Board is a key supporting partner of CENEX LCV2013 and the event showcases some of the innovative projects that the Technology Strategy Board has helped in the field of low carbon technology.

The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. It provides support to manufacturers to deliver new vehicle technologies.

The Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform invests jointly with the industry and other funders in interventions that promote UK-based R&D in low carbon vehicle technologies, and strengthen the relevant supply chains within the UK.

The Platform has leveraged £350 million of innovation investment for low carbon vehicle research and development since it was established in 2007 and has run Europe’s largest real-life trial of ultra low carbon vehicles: ‘The Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator’, the results of which were launched during LCV2013

Transport KTN

The Transport Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) works in partnership with the TSB and exists to ensure the UK transport industry shares and benefits from knowledge and technology across all sectors – marine, rail and automotive – using this to improve personal travel and freight transport efficiencies, to give a step improvement to the UK’s economic success, environment, and social well being.

Niche Vehicle Network

The Niche Vehicle Network (NVN) is an independent association of over 100 niche vehicle manufacturers, specialist technology companies and supply chain. Supported by the Technology Strategy Board, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Niche Vehicle R&D Programme provides support and grant funding to groups of UK companies active in the niche vehicle sector.


The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) is a team working across government to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). OLEV is providing over £900 million to position the UK at the global forefront of ULEV development, manufacture and use. This will contribute to economic growth and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution on UK roads.

OLEV has recently published a number of reports:

The Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme – Report

The 12-month trial, commissioned by the Technology Strategy Board and OLEV, provided a range of test electric vehicles to private and corporate fleet drivers to use every day. It covered more than 300 cars, over 276,000 trips, clocked up over 1.5 million miles and over 50,000 recharges. Among the key findings of the results report, jointly authored by Cenex and Oxford Brookes University, was how quickly perceptions changed as people got used to driving the electric vehicles.

Lessons learnt from the Plugged-in Places projects

This report distills the lessons learnt from the government’s Plugged-in Places schemes to help guide local authorities and other organisations who are considering installing a plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure. It includes advice on the range of requirements that need to be considered when setting up a plug-in vehicle charging scheme.

High level analysis of the Plugged-in Places charge point usage data

The report provides an exploratory analysis into electric vehicle charging point data from the Plugged-in Places projects based upon 40,000 individual charging events.


The annual LCV event is run by Cenex – the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies. Cenex is a delivery agency, established with support from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to promote UK market development in low carbon and fuel cell technologies for transport applications. Cenex’s principal focus is on catalysing market transformation projects linking technology providers and end users. As part of this work, it runs a number of programmes for UK national and regional government.


Automotive Council


The Automotive Council, established in December 2009, was a key recommendation of the industry-led New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT). The Automotive Council aims to:

• Create a transformed business environment for the automotive industry in the UK to provide a more compelling investment proposition for related industries

• Develop further the technology roadmaps for low carbon vehicles and fuels, and exploit opportunities to promote the UK as a strong candidate to develop these and other technologies

• Develop a stronger and more competitive automotive supply chain

• Provide a stronger public voice for the industry to support the value of the industry to the UK and to global partners

• Ensure a strategic, continuous conversation between government and the automotive industry in the UK.


Automotive Investment Organisation


The Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) was recently established, with £3m funding over two years, to ensure the UK can proactively support more global investment, building on the £6bn already committed to automotive over the previous two years.

The Automotive Investment Organisation was announced in the recently-launched Automotive Sector Strategy, ‘Driving Success’ . Developed collaboratively between industry and government, the strategy sets out a clear vision and ambition for the industry; building on the investment, growth and innovation that is already happening and ensuring all potential opportunities can be realised.




The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) exists to support and promote the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad. Working closely with member companies, SMMT acts as the voice of the motor industry, promoting its position to government, stakeholders and the media. Each year the SMMT publishes the Automotive Sustainability Report .

Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership

The LowCVP, established in 2003, is a public-private partnership that exists to accelerate a sustainable shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and create opportunities for UK business. Nearly 200 organisations are engaged from diverse backgrounds including automotive and fuel supply chains, vehicle users, academics, environment groups and others.

At LCV2013 the LowCVP announced a new Low Carbon Road Transport Innovation Award for ecoConnect’s Cleantech Innovate 2014, and that the new online Low Carbon Automotive Directory (LCAD) is seeking entries.