Transport group delivers its 20-year low carbon vision

by Published Wed 06 May 2009 14:28
Low carbon transport is the key

The industry-led, government-funded ‘New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team’ (NAIGT) has published its 20-year vision for the auto industry and a series of recommendations for it be achieved.

The NAIGT report, chaired by ex-Ford engineering chief Richard Parry-Jones, calls for a focussed approach to the UK R&D; agenda centred around technology and research roadmaps for low carbon vehicles and fuels.

As part of this the group want to establish 'Test Bed UK', a large scale pilot to develop, demonstrate and build the new low-carbon personal transportation system including its infrastructure.

They propose supporting these key goals by creating a transformed business environment to provide a more compelling investment proposition and exploit the opportunities for the UK to become a world leader.

In its report, the NAIGT spells out its vision for the UK automotive industry, as: “A competitive, growing, and dynamic industry making a large and increasing contribution to employment and prosperity in the UK, and playing a decisive global role in developing and manufacturing exciting, low carbon vehicle transportation solutions”

The group identifies and tackles the challenges the auto industry faces in the switch to a transport system based around energy from the generating sector rather than liquid fossil fuel based and specifically addresses the need for the right infrastructure.

“There are a number of drivers of change within the sector and these are either currently legislated, about to be legislated, or future concerns,” it claims. “One of the most significant historical drivers is tailpipe emissions, which have been regulated by legislation for several years.

“The same is the case for crash, noise and safety legislation all of which impact significantly on manufacturers. The newest driver for change is CO2 reduction and the forthcoming legislation framework to be established for 2015 and 2020.

“This will have a major effect on the market, especially when linked to advertising campaigns, raised awareness of climate change, and fiscal incentives such as VED targeting lower carbon emitting vehicles.

“There is a rising interest in energy security, although perhaps to a lesser extent within the UK automotive sector than elsewhere.

“The interest in achieving significant reductions of CO2 by 2020 and the UK Climate Change Act 2008 with legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 80% by 2050, combined with the UK’s agreement to increase renewable energy within the transport mix, provide compelling reasons to push forward on more advanced technologies within transport as highlighted in reports such as the King Review.

“The Gallagher Review of the indirect effects of biofuels production has also highlighted the difficulties of increasing the level within the transport mix in the next ten years while sustainability issues are yet to be resolved.

“The Group concluded therefore, that a drive towards electrification of transport (EoT) should be accelerated in order to address the drivers of change identified and take advantage of a business opportunity in component development and supply for electric drive and associated ancillaries/storage systems and other related componentry.

“This would need to run in parallel with more conventional technologies such as ICEs, light weighting, reduced drag and various hybrid technologies.”

The group promoted the need for a technology and research roadmap to maximise the opportunity and position the UK as a world leader.

It explained: “The aim of the research roadmap will be to build consensus from the UK university base on where research should be focused into automotive applications. This will have the effect of maximising research funding value, developing strong partnerships between academia and the vehicle manufacturing sector, and maximising the opportunity for commercialisation of our UK technology institutes workthough SMEs into mainstream development within ‘Test Bed UK’.

“The increased focus in research to solve the issues associated with electrification of transport could also raise awareness of, and interest in STEM-based careers... Test Bed UK is proposed as an umbrella brand which is then responsible for managing the major activities within the NAIGT roadmaps.

“The first programme could be EoT with others such as ITS etc. following. With each programme, the aim would be to develop real world application that could be rolled out to the mass market, at which point, the technology takes on its own momentum.”

The Government, led by BERR’s Automotive Unit will consider the NAIGT recommendations for action and will respond in a Government response in the summer.

NAIGT was launched in April 2008 to facilitate the development of a collective strategic view from the automotive industry on the innovation and growth challenges that it faces in the period to 2025 and is an industry-led project facilitated by the Automotive Unit (AU) within the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

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