Innovate UK has announced a competition with £20mn in funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for low-carbon vehicles technologies that reduce CO2 emissions being developed in the UK. Announced on 30 July, the competition aims to “accelerate the development of low-carbon propulsion technologies and make the UK a global centre of excellence for low-carbon vehicle development and production”. To apply for a share of the funding, entries must help make capabilities developed a permanent part of the UK supply chain and cover areas including energy storage and energy management, lightweight vehicle structures and alternative propulsion systems.

Energy storage and management is fundamental in the future of electric cars, whether it be mass storage (i.e. at electric vehicle charging points) or internal storage within the car. Solid-state batteries are considered to be the future of vehicle storage and the replacement of current lithium-ion capacitors. They are expected to be able to extend the range of electric vehicles to a level similar to that of conventional cars.

Investment into lightweight vehicle structures is also favoured. Further development on current materials like carbon fibre and aluminum may be a key avenue to explore in order to continue the roll-out of electric vehicles. Lighter vehicle frames will create a car of lower mass meaning that the electricity consumed per unit distance covered would be less making the new mode of transport increasingly similar to the conventional car. Extending the range of such vehicles is vital in encouraging modal switch to the lower emitters.

Another way of lowering vehicle electricity consumption and securing the funding from Innovate UK is through research into alternative propulsion systems. Currently there is a variety in the propulsion systems of electric vehicles, with some acting as hybrids between regular internal combustion engines and others acting as full EV propellers. Investigation into such systems is important to increase the overall efficiency of vehicles, and therefore their overall attraction in the automotive industry.

The competition opens on 6 August and the deadline for applications is 3 October. Organisations could attract up to 70% of their project costs, ranging between £5mn and £40mn.

UK Government