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LowCVP Conference 2012 review: From low to ultra-low emission vehicles – a business opportunity


13 May 2012, By Paul Clarke


The official strapline of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) Conference 2012 that took place on 10 May was ‘Low Carbon Road Transport: Moving to Maturity’; in real terms the content was all about how we make the transition from low to ultra-low carbon vehicles.

If you missed the event, here’s a summary of the key issues.

LowCVP Conference 2012 keynote speech: Rt Hon Justine Greening MP Secretary of State for Transport

Justine Greening MP Secretary of State for Transport Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport, stressed that low carbon vehicles are important for the UK economy as they are currently worth £3 trillion per year globally, and this is due to increase to over £4 trillion by the end of this decade. We should therefore “seize the moment, grab a share of the green growth, and position us as a global leader in the area of low carbon vehicles”.

She likened the current switch to electric vehicles to the initial uptake of the very first petrol cars – ie. slow to start, but gathering momentum. She also stressed that the government was helping with the shift through initiatives such as the Plug In Car Grant, Plugged in Places and tax incentives – although these focused on EVs, the government was keen not to back just one type of technology.

Much greater uptake of EVs is expected over the next 12-24 months, but we still need to dramatically change consumer behaviour to make real progress in decarbonising our transport system – and to avoid being at the mercy of fluctuating world oil prices.

Overview: Climate Change Politics – where are we heading?

Michael Jacobs

Grantham Institute on Climate Change & Environment and former adviser to the Prime Minister

Michael Jacobs Grantham Institute on Climate Change & Environment Michael Jacobs started off by showing the need for continued progress in the area of low carbon vehicles: he pointed out that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, global temperatures are still increasing, the rate of natural disasters is still on the up, and the impacts from climate change are larger and likely to occur earlier than first thought.

Despite all this, there were no agreements from the world’s leaders about how to deal with greenhouse gas emissions at Copenhagen, and there have been none since.

Increased demand for oil, especially from India and China, means that prices are still rising and oil is being extracted from increasingly environmentally-sensitive locations such as the Arctic and tar sands in Canada.

Progress with government commitments and emissions reductions is poor in Europe and America, however China is investing heavily in renewable energy for a low carbon future.

Investors in the UK need certainty about government policy to invest in low carbon; issues such as the confusion about solar tariffs hasn’t helped with this confidence.

Next year the decision needs to be made whether to confirm that the next target for average new car emissions in Europe will be 95 g/km by 2020. Such a decision, although not desired by car makers, would at least provide certainty for them to invest in more low carbon technologies.

Greener and cleaner: Is the UK motor industry fully invested in a low carbon future?

Konstanze Scharring

Head of Public Policy & Vehicle Legislation, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

Konstanze Scharring (SMMT) The transition to ultra-low carbon vehicles is a massive economic opportunity for the UK and for more regional-based sourcing.

A plan exists to help car makers with rolling out technology in the future, in the form of the Automotive Council Passenger Car Technology Roadmap . This roadmap is further evidence that there isn’t one ‘silver bullet’ to result in the perfect ultra-low carbon vehicle.

To make the roadmap happen, investment by energy providers will be required in the future in order to allow the development of genuinely low carbon electric cars.

Another issue will be to change the focus from a vehicle’s tailpipe emissions to its lifecycle emissions – driving down the CO2 per vehicle.

Currently there is a shift to lower CO2 vehicles across all car segments. The next step is to move to ultra-low carbon vehicles.

Konstanze reiterated the need for consistency from government in terms of incentives in order to maintain confidence with investors and consumers.

See announcements about investments from UK automotive companies in 2011 and 2012 at the bottom of this article.

The impact of a vehicle’s tyres on carbon emissions

An automotive supplier perspective – complementary measures to help meet the Carbon Plan

Darren Lindsey

Head of Government and Public Affairs, Michelin Tyre Plc

Darren Lindsey Head of Government and Public Affairs, Michelin Tyre Plc Tyres account for a huge 20% of the fuel consumed by an internal combustion engine car, due to their rolling resistance. This figure increases to 30% with an urban electric vehicle or a commercial truck.

Out of all the lifetime CO2 impacts of a tyre, usage on a vehicle accounts for 92.6%.

If the UK fully adopted the lowest rolling resistance tyres, 8 million tonnes of CO2 would be saved annually.

Tyre labelling will come into effect in November 2012. The label will provide consumers with a rating of the tyre in three areas: wet grip, fuel efficiency, and external noise. Choosing a tyre with a fuel efficiency rating of A rather than G would result in a 7.5% fuel saving for the consumer. Based on driving 12,000 miles per year, with a range of 500 miles per tank, this would save two full tanks, equating to around £200.

In terms of wet grip, choosing a tyre with a fuel efficiency rating of A rather than G would result in an 18-metre shorter braking distance – or 4 car lengths.

The replacement tyre market is five times the size of the original equipment market; tyre labels should be an important aid for the consumer when choosing replacement tyres.

Future fuels

Hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles is a reality today

Charles Purkess

ITM Power

With increased levels of energy being produced by renewables – ie. when the wind blows or when the sun shines, rather than when needed by the grid – energy storage is becoming a greater issue. Hydrogen can be produced from renewables and can store energy that can be used to power vehicles. Germany is currently leading the way with hydrogen, rolling out hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations.

Hydrogen can also be produced on a user’s site, so eliminating the need for fuel deliveries. A fuel cell is the most efficient way to use hydrogen.

Hydrogen can help to overcome the short range and long refuelling time associated with current electric vehicles. Hydrogen is non-polluting and can be integrated in a smart grid.

Building the electric vehicle infrastructure network – British Gas Smart Homes

Dan Taylor

New Ventures Director, British Gas

British Gas currently supplies electricity to 16 million homes and 1 million businesses. Therefore the company is in a good position to add the installation of EV recharging points to its portfolio.

Smart charging is required for electric vehicles. By 2019 it will be mandatory to roll out smart meters in all homes across the country. This will give visibility to energy consumption and its costs, and should encourage consumers to recharge their electric vehicle using, for instance, energy generated from wind at 3am, rather than energy generated from coal at 6pm.

EVs should be recharged using renewable energy, but unless EV owners have a renewable tariff, it’s currently very difficult to know what percentage of the energy used to recharge an EV is from renewables.

Official mpg versus real-life mpg


The view from the SMMT

Vehicle manufacturers advertise mpg figures derived from internationally agreed tests (Regulation (EC) No. 715/2007), providing motorists with access to standardised, comparable vehicle test data. It is important to have a globally repeatable test achieved under laboratory test conditions.

The official mpg figures give a guide to motorists. While they offer a useful comparison for consumers, they do not, and the industry does not claim, that they necessarily represent real-world data. There are many reasons why drivers may not achieve official figures. These include traffic and weather conditions, driving style (e.g. hanging in gears too long, rapid acceleration) incorrectly pressured tyres, poorly serviced vehicle, excess weight and so on.

It is important that the industry maintains a globally repeatable test, under laboratory conditions to ensure consistency and comparability and continues to quote the legally-required data.

The view from Green-Car-Guide

We agree with the view of the SMMT that a standard test is required to allow comparison between different cars. However the discrepancy between the official mpg figures and real life mpg figures is becoming greater as more green cars appear. In our tests we have found that under typical driving conditions a ‘conventional’ 2-litre diesel car is likely to get closest to its official mpg figure, whereas a small capacity petrol engine with lots of optimisation for the NEDC test is likely to struggle to get close to the official figures. When driven out of the test cycle – as everyone does – such engines can fall way short of their advertised figures. This is especially true of hybrids, which perform very well in the specific cycle of the NEDC test.

This issue is due to get worse with new technologies such as plug-in hybrids and extended-range electric vehicles. Vehicles with such technology are quoted with economy figures such as 150 mpg upwards, which can be misleading. Green-Car-Guide believes that it should be stressed, as we do in our reviews, that these figures are for a specific ‘low load’ and very short driving cycle. Motorists who drive 12,000 miles per year are likely to be very disappointed with the economy after 12 months compared to the NEDC figure. ‘Eco-driving’ techniques certainly help with maximising fuel economy, but the reality is that most drivers do not drive in this way. Green-Car-Guide will continue to communicate real life economy in its reviews and advise if official fuel economy figures are likely to be misleading.

The Big Debate

Can road transport help to deliver the UK’s third (2018–22) and fourth (2023–27) Carbon Plan targets?


Adam Vaughan, Environment Editor, The Guardian


Professor Phil Goodwin, Professor of Transport Policy, University of the West of England

Professor Julia King, Aston University and Committee on Climate Change

Doug Parr, Scientific Advisor, Greenpeace

Paul Everitt, Chief Executive, SMMT

Phil Goodwin suggested that we shouldn’t only be relying on fuel and engine technology to lower our carbon emissions; instead we should be achieving progress from behaviour change. Phil believed that the assumption that car travel will grow was incorrect. He saw that the love affair with the car was cooling down, as the younger generation now prefers mobile computing to cars; he described this trend as “peak car”.

Julia King said that we can’t meet UK carbon budgets without a big input from road transport – and more electric vehicles are required to do that, so we need to bring new technology into the market place now, for which incentives are needed. We also need to commit to the proposed 95 g/km CO2 target for 2020 – and 50 g/km by 2030. During the last four years new car CO2 levels have reduced by 13% – if we keep on reducing at that rate we will meet the new targets.

Doug Parr said that the high oil price will not go away, and oil companies will increasingly turn to other forms of oil from new sources with high environmental damage, so decarbonisation of transport needs to be an act of political will.

Paul Everitt said that road transport can reduce its carbon levels however it would increasingly need to work with fuel companies and the electricity grid – and therefore government – to do so. Paul also said that vehicle ownership models would continue to change, from outright ownership to ‘smarter’ ways such as leasing.

Points that were made in response to questions from the audience included that EVs should be given more ‘non-financial’ incentives – such as better parking spaces at shops. It was also felt that public sector fleets (100,000 vehicles) should be under more pressure to adopt lower emission models, and that the recent changes announced in the budget about future company car tax changes should be reviewed.

LowCVP Conference 2012 Summary

Good progress has been made so far to lower the carbon emissions from vehicles, and the LowCVP has played an important role in this. However different challenges lie ahead to move from low to ultra-low carbon vehicles; if we can become a global leader in this area then it will represent a significant economic opportunity for the UK.

See our
review of the 2011 LowCVP Conference

Announcements about investments from UK automotive companies in 2011 and 2012 (from the


11 May 2012 – Jaguar Land Rover commits an additional £1 billion to the UK automotive supply chain over the next four years, and announces a new logistics facility in Ellesmere Port
, creating around 300 new jobs, managed by JLR’s logistics provider, DHL.

30 April 2012 – Honda confirmed 500 new recruits
to begin work at its Swindon plant, production volumes forecast to double to 180,000 units with the addition of a second shift. In addition to the new Civic and Jazz, 2012 will also see the launch of the new European Honda CR-V and the introduction of a new small diesel engine, both of which will be produced at the Swindon site. A total of 3,500 employees now based at the plant.

10 April 2012 – Nissan confirmed production of an all-new hatchback model at its Sunderland facility from 2014, creating 225 jobs at the plant and 900 more in the supply chain. Investment in recent years at the Sunderland plant now exceeds £900m, and includes the introduction of the 100% electric Nissan LEAF in 2013, the Juke launch, the construction of a battery plant and the replacement Qashqai crossover.

4 April 2012 – Jaguar announced that it will build an all-new sports car, the F-TYPE, at its Castle Bromwich facility in the West Midlands.

23 March 2012 – Government announced the winning bids under the third round of the Green Bus Fund
for hybrid, electric and gas buses. The £31 million fund will see 439 new low carbon buses come to UK roads, the majority of which are expected to be manufactured in the UK.

13 March 2012 – Jaguar Land Rover – Announced plans to expand its Halewood manufacturing facility
, creating an additional 1,000 jobs to increase vehicle production.

5 March 2012 – Nissan – Announced production of an all-new model
, the Nissan INVITATION, at its manufacturing facility in Sunderland creating around 2,000 new jobs at the plant and within its UK supplier base. In addition to vehicle assembly, Sunderland will carry out axle production, cylinder head casting, camshaft machining and engine assembly, representing an overall investment of £125 million by Nissan in the UK.

13 January 2012 – McLaren Automotive – Announced plans to build a new facility in Woking for its F1 and sports car operations, creating 400 new jobs.


In 2011 a significant number of high-profile announcements were made regarding investment, production expansion, new vehicle models and the safeguarding of employment within the UK’s automotive sector. Announcements were made about the creation of around 9,900 new jobs, the safeguarding of over 12,000 jobs, investments worth over £4 billion either directly in UK automotive or in automotive supply chain activities, nine new vehicle models and long term plans to manufacture four next generation vehicle models in the UK, including:


7 December 2011 – JCB – Announced £31 million investment in a new engine development project
(£4.5 million funded by the RGF) in the Midlands and Wales – 350 new jobs created.

7 December 2011 – Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division – Announced £50 million investment in its assembly plant in Leicestershire and fabrications plant in Stoke-on-Tees. In addition, 300 new jobs created in the East Midlands and North East.

24 November 2011 – Toyota – Announced £100 million investment in its Burnaston manufacturing facility
in Derbyshire to produce the new generation hatchback – 1,500 new jobs created and £85 million invested into the UK supply chain.

10 November 2011 – Jaguar Land Rover – Announced it will recruit 1,000 production staff
at its advanced manufacturing plant in Solihull.

19 September 2011 – Jaguar Land Rover – £355 million investment in new facility in Midlands to manufacture low emission engines, 750 jobs created.

13 September 2011 – Rolls-Royce – Announced significant investment in its Assembly Hall and Surface Finish Centre
, with expansion plans set to commence in 2012. Mark Prisk, Business Minister, visited Goodwood in December
to learn more about the plans.

9 September 2011 – Nissan announces 25 years of manufacturing at its UK Sunderland plant
. Production of the new Qashqai will take Nissan’s total investment in its UK manufacturing base to £3.3 billion.

5 September 2011 – Jaguar Land Rover – Announced 336 new graduate recruits will join its training programme
to develop technical and engineering expertise for careers in UK automotive.

19 August 2011 – MIRA – Awarded ‘Enterprise Zone Status’ at its West Midlands development facility
, creating over 2,000 jobs over the next 10 years and facilitating global R&D operations from its UK base.

27 June 2011 – UK Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) based at the University of East Anglia (UEA) invested £400,000 in new automotive technologies
designed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

9 June 2011 – BMW – £500 million investment in new facilities and equipment at the Oxfordshire assembly plant
, the engine plant in Hams Hall, Birmingham and the pressings plant in Swindon. 5,000 jobs safeguarded with announcements that MINI Coupé from 2011 and MINI Roadster from 2012 will both be built in the UK.

8 June 2011 – Nissan – £192 million investment to design, engineer and build the new Qashqai
in the UK; 6,000 jobs safeguarded and 43% UK sourced parts. Additionally, £420 million confirmed investment in Sunderland plant for the production of the Nissan LEAF from 2013 and for a new stand-alone facility to produce lithium-ion batteries for Renault and Nissan vehicles from 2012.

7 June 2011 – Toyota – Installed the world’s first large-scale solar panel array for mass vehicle production
at its Derbyshire plant. The panels will generate sufficient electricity to manufacture 7,000 cars and save 2,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The panels will be used in the manufacture of the Auris hybrid, Auris and Avensis models at the UK plant.

6 June 2011 – Aston Martin – Four-door Rapide sports car will commence production at its facility in Gaydon
, Warwickshire, from the second half of 2012.

5 May 2011 – Optare – Unveiled its new manufacturing facility in Elmet, Yorkshire with the capability to manufacture approximately 1,200 buses annually and 400 jobs safeguarded. The facility will be the first new bus assembly plant to open in the UK in almost 40 years.

29 April 2011 – Jaguar Land Rover – £490 million investment in its Solihull manufacturing plant to build C-X75 all-hybrid supercar
; over 100 highly-skilled jobs created.

13 April 2011 – MG – Announced new MG6 GT sports fastback
will be designed, engineered and finally assembled at its UK-based production facility in Longbridge, Birmingham; 400 jobs safeguarded. Further announcement expected that a second model, the MG6 Magnette four-door sports saloon will also be designed, engineered and finally assembled in the UK.

11 April 2011 – Aston Martin – Announced new city car, the Cygnet, will be produced at its Gaydon facility in Warwickshire, creating approximately 150 new jobs and more within the UK’s supply chain. The Cygnet is the 11th major new production car that Aston Martin has bought to the UK facility since it was founded in 2004.

28 March 2011 – Tata Motors – Announced engineering and technology expansion plans at its Tata Motor’s European Technical Centre (TMETC) in Warwickshire – Facilities at the centre are expected to increase by 40% by 2013.

24 March 2011 – Opel/Vauxhall – Confirmed Luton as the manufacturing site for the next generation Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro
light commercial vehicle, which will enter into production in 2013.

2 March 2011Jaguar Land Rover Supply contracts in excess of £2 billion
for the new Range Rover Evoque awarded to over 40 UK-based companies.

See our
review of the 2011 LowCVP Conference