The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has a vision for the Manchester City Region to be one of the greenest in Europe, and at the Moving North Conference, he invited organisations with ideas about how to achieve this vision in the area of transport to speak to him.
The Moving North Conference featured some of the leading organisations in the UK with expertise in the area of greener transport, including the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) – the organiser of the conference, the Northern Automotive Alliance (NAA), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Transport for the North (TfN), the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) and EA Technology.
Speakers from the above organisations gave presentations at the event which are summarised below, however it was Andy Burnham who kicked the day off with an inspiring vision of a greener Manchester and an invitation to bring ideas to the table about how to achieve low emission transport in the region.
Andy Burnham opened with the question “Can devolution of power to the English regions accelerate the change to greener transport?”. He explained how the world is changing rapidly, with transport being on the cusp of great change, and technology can support a significant shift to low or no emissions.
He said that government at a national level can struggle to keep up with the pace of this change – especially in the current situation of so much government bandwidth being taken up by Brexit – but devolution can allow change to happen if places such as Manchester are set free to determine their own path. And Manchester has the most advanced devolution deal.
Andy talked about “reversing the industrial revolution”: the last one took away people’s places and clean air – this time we need to ensure we have clean air to breathe. This ‘green industrial revolution’ can be achieved by decarbonisation and digitalisation – and Andy is keen to be at the front of this shift, which was kick-started by Manchester’s recent Digital and Green Summits.
As a result, there is even talk of bringing forward the date for Greater Manchester to achieve carbon neutrality compared to the UK target – by at least a decade. And to help with this, Andy is keen to develop Manchester as a place to stimulate innovation.
Andy gave examples of three practical actions that are moving things forward. The first of these is EV charging infrastructure, with funding recently being secured for new charging points in Manchester.
There’s also the development of a Clean Air Plan for Greater Manchester, which may include Clean Air Zones – although the details are not yet confirmed. Andy was keen to stress that people who have bought cars due to previous government policy shouldn’t be punished financially by any proposed new initiatives.
The third area is public transport, where Andy would like to see a much improved – and zero emission – bus service.
There’s due to be a follow-up event to the Green Summit to make decisions. In the meantime Andy Burnham invited businesses and other organisations to propose ideas about how to achieve greener transport – as quickly as possible. The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership could play a role in coordinating ideas, potentially in conjunction with the Northern Automotive Alliance, as well as other organisations at the event including Transport for Greater Manchester, and local universities.
Andy Eastlake, Managing Director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, chaired the morning session, and pulled out the two key areas of ‘decarbonisation and digitalisation’ in his summary of Andy’s talk, and also added in one other area: the importance of communication.
Widening the debate from Manchester to the North, the next speaker, Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director, Transport for the North (TfN), explained how poor transport links in the North were limiting economic development. This is especially true with the lack of West-East links over the Pennines. The example was given that in the recent period of cold weather, it wasn’t possible to drive from West to East as the very few major roads – the M62 being the only main motorway – were closed due to the snow.
Therefore Transport for the North is looking at how to connect people and businesses better through integrated and smart travel, such as more joined up inter-operability of public transport. However as Transport for the North only came into existence on 1 April 2018, it’s still early days.
Simon Warburton, Transport Strategy Director, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) explained that it was the job of TfGM to put ‘flesh on vision set out by Andy Burnham’ to achieve growth as well as lower emissions. The challenge will be made even more difficult due to the predicted increase in population in the City Region, which is forecast to be over three million during the 2030s, with an additional 200,000 jobs. People can’t continue to travel in the same way as they do now; the solution will be based on the concept of integration, thinking in a multi-modal way, with the end goal being a ‘smart city’.
The ‘government perspective’ was provided by Bob Moran, Deputy Head, Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). Bob reminded the audience that the government is committed to ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, with the aim of all cars being zero emission by 2050. He explained that change can be brought about by three ‘instruments’: funding, regulation, and communication.
There are now 12,500 public electric vehicle charge points around the UK, with more than 1,000 rapid charge points, but more will be needed, such as the ones that are now coming to Manchester.
The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill is due to play an important part in the transition to 2050, as it should help to ensure the UK has one of the best EV charging infrastructures in the world.
The Prime Minister is due to host a zero emission vehicle summit later this year, with the aim of creating new opportunities and inspiring attendees to invest in EVs – more information is due to be released soon.
Ian Constance, Chief Executive, Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) explained that the APC supports the development of low carbon vehicle technologies and aims to develop and anchor supply chains in the UK.
There is an increasing focus on air quality, and new technologies will significantly disrupt the industry. The projections are that the number of EVs will accelerate rapidly.
Battery packs represent a big opportunity for the UK; because they are large, heavy items, it makes more sense for them to be manufactured locally rather than shipped around the world, as Nissan has done in the North East.
The Faraday Challenge aims to accelerate the development of battery technology in the UK, offering the opportunity for small, innovative companies to scale up their activities. Ian stressed that battery technology needs a big investment as it is a global race.
The Moving North conference was sponsored by Gefco and Uber. Neil McGonigle, Head of Cities for North and West England, Uber, took the opportunity to deliver a presentation about the company’s plans in the area of low emission vehicles.
Uber carried out a trial with 60 pure EVs in London in 2017. Many drivers didn’t have access to home charging, and many hours were spent looking for, or using, a charge point. There are now over 100 EVs on the Uber app, with over 1 million miles driven.
Uber has the target of all its vehicles being EVs or hybrids by 2022, and all being ULEVs by 2028. The company is making £5,000 available to drivers to upgrade to hybrids or ULEVs. Based on 40,000 vehicles, that means the company would pay out £200 million. This will be funded by a ‘small clean air fee’ on passenger journeys – every penny of this will go to the drivers via a clean air fund.
Mike Hawes explained how there are currently many issues facing the industry simultaneously, including emissions, connected vehicles, digitalisation, productivity, skills and Brexit. In terms of CO2 emissions, the industry has stiff targets, and if these aren’t met, there are huge fines. The vehicle manufacturers are therefore making significant investments.
Recent UK car sales figures show that around 5% of new car sales are of ‘alternatively-fuelled’ vehicles (plug-in cars and hybrids), 1.5% are plug-in cars (pure EVs and plug-in hybrids), and only 0.5% of UK sales are of pure EVs at the moment. There has also been a shift away from diesel, and as a result, CO2 emissions have risen. Half of the rise in CO2 is attributed to falling diesel sales, and half is attributed to the move from car bodystyles such as saloons to SUVs, which are larger, heavier, less aerodynamic and less fuel efficient.
To address the key issues in the industry, the good working relationship with government that has been built up over recent years needs to continue, which is what the Industrial Strategy – and the Automotive Sector Strategy – aims to achieve. In January 2018 the Automotive Sector Deal was launched, which covers a number of areas including competitiveness, productivity, skills, digitalisation, innovation, environment, raising the level of UK content in vehicles from 44%, and Brexit – where the headline is that we need to remain part of the European automotive industry.
Henri Murison reiterated a key message from the earlier TfN presentation that the reality of travelling around the North can be very challenging, and that the needs of connectivity of the Northern economy need to be assessed. At the same time, emissions need to be reduced.
The example of the North East was quoted, ie. the home of Nissan in the UK, where many EV charge points have been installed to make it easy for EV drivers. There are also other areas in the UK where leadership has been shown in terms of encouraging EVs, but Henri said that we shouldn’t have to rely on a few pilot projects. The North needs infrastructure such as rapid EV chargers, in the right places, and there needs to be enough electricity to power them.
Carol Holden explained that the NAA provides a community for all automotive-related businesses in the North West, Yorkshire & Humber.
The North West has the UK’s largest overall manufacturing output at £24.2bn, which equates to 318,000 jobs. North West Automotive represents £2,622m GVA, and is the second most significant region in the UK.
In the NAA area there are 6 major vehicle manufacturers, 5 niche vehicle manufacturers, over 20 global top 100 automotive Tier 1s, and specialist SMEs linked to commercial vehicles, engines and the region’s textile legacy.
Despite the above, there are few national centres of excellence for future technologies in the region, such as APC Spokes or Catapult Centres. If such centres were established in the North, clusters of associated businesses would be likely to develop around them.
Carol suggested that if the government is serious about rebalancing the UK’s economy, the North needs a local, joined-up approach for the Northern low carbon vehicle industry in terms of vision and strategy; recognition for the North’s research and national assets; and funding and support mechanisms that make sense for a diverse, geographically-spread community.
The Moving North conference ended with Andy Eastlake inviting ideas to take to Andy Burnham from delegates and the speakers – including two new speakers on the final panel, Lawrence Davies MBE, Chief Executive, Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO), and Dave Roberts, Director, Smart Interventions, EA Technology.
One of the questions that Andy Eastlake asked was “What can we do at a regional level in the North to move faster towards low emission vehicle technology?”. Answers included:
The Moving North conference began with Andy Burnham setting out a green vision for the Manchester City Region, and asking for help and ideas from businesses to achieve that vision. The LowCVP and the NAA are in an ideal position to coordinate ideas for greener transport in the Northern region; if you would like to be involved contact: