In the UK, innovative ideas for zero-emission vehicles could benefit from a share of a £20 million funding pot announced by the British Department for Transport today. The DfT plans to launch a research and development competition in the field of e-mobility.
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Focus for the competition is set to stand open to “some of the most promising electric vehicle technology innovations”. This could include zero-emission emergency vehicles, charging technology or EV battery recycling, according to the organizers. Regarding the pot’s financing, £18 million of the funding was provided by the Office for Low Emission Vehicle’s. In contrast, the other £2 million are being provided by the government itself, which pledged to “support innovation from small businesses and organisations through the Niche Vehicle Network”.
The Niche Vehicle Network is “an independent association of more than 900 niche vehicle manufacturers and engineering companies, promoting research into low-carbon technology”. Transport secretary Grant Shapps added: “The funding announced today will help harness some of the brightest talent in the UK tech industry, encouraging businesses to become global leaders in EV innovation, creating jobs and accelerating us towards our net-zero ambitions.” The news follows a major budget allocation last week, where a “suite of innovation funding competitions backed by a combined £92m of investment to support energy storage, floating offshore wind power, and sustainable biomass production projects” was announced and allocated.
The funding pot’s goal is to support the British government’s aim to phase out all sales of fossil fuelled and hybrid cars by 2035. Further, the organizers announced it could help create around 6,000 skilled jobs over the next decade.
Previous winners of the contest included a fuel cell ambulance prototype designed for use in London by ULEMCo. The vehicle has a top speed of 90 mph and can travel “an average of 200 miles a day”. Another project that received funding was a pop-up charger initiative by Urban Foresight, which was given £3 million “to develop pop-up chargers that rise out of the pavement to provide a discreet, safe and low-cost EV charging solution to those without off-street parking”.
Update 17 June 2021: The UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has now announced the competition’s winners. Funding was awarded to 62 promising electric vehicle technology innovations. Among the winning projects: an onboard plug-in device that provides drivers with data on battery health to improve the experience of buying secondhand EVs; a kinetic battery that will provide a temporary power boost for charging the next generation of ultra-fast EVs at peak times in rural areas; a zero-emission ambulance with a hydrogen range extender designed from the ground up; and the development of a solar-powered refrigeration unit for small commercial vehicles.
The Department for Transport has also launched a project to find an iconic British design for public charge points, which could see “our charge points become as recognisable as a red post box or a black cab”. The resulting design is set to be unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this November.
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