The government will invest more than £73 million in green automotive technology, junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi has confirmed. The funding will be split between 10 eco-friendly projects, including Jaguar Land Rover’s hydrogen fuel cell development scheme and BMW Motorsport’s plan to develop more cost-efficient batteries.
Other projects included in the funding include schemes to produce recyclable batteries, advanced electrical systems and ultra-lightweight components. A project to create manufacturing processes for crash-resistant and lightweight battery enclosures will also receive funding, along with research into an energy recovery system designed to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the £73.5 million investment will “help drive the automotive industry further away from its reliance on fossil fuel technologies”, as well as safeguarding more than 14,000 jobs in the research and manufacturing sectors. The department also hopes the money will enable more low-emission cars, commercial vehicles and components to be built in the UK.
The announcement came hot on the heels of a plea from the automotive industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), asking for government help to restart the sector after Covid-19. According to the organisation, one in six automotive jobs is at risk as the coronavirus crisis rumbles on, and 34 percent of staff are still on furlough.
The DfT wants the sector’s recovery to be a green one, and said the switch to more environmentally friendly forms of transport will be “vital” in helping the UK meet its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. At the same time, the department says the move will also help to grow the economy and create jobs in “greener industries”.
Zahawi, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said the government’s cash injection would support “thousands” of jobs in the automotive sector.
“Whether it’s researching future battery design or creating a lightweight version of the Ford Transit, companies in every part of the United Kingdom are leading the world in advanced automotive technology,” said Zahawi. “Not only will this funding ensure automotive companies can play their part in keeping us on the path to net zero emissions by 2050, it will also support thousands of jobs and be a welcome step towards the industry’s economic recovery.”
Meanwhile Rachel Maclean, the MP for Redditch, in Worcestershire and parliamentary under-secretary of state at the DfT, said the investment would also bring the UK closer to its 2050 emissions target.
“As we look to kickstart our green transport recovery, new technologies and cleaner fuels are going to play an even greater role in achieving our aim of a greener and more prosperous economy,” she said. “From recyclable batteries to state-of-the-art motors, not only will this funding create thousands of jobs, it will also bring us one step closer to achieving our net zero target within 30 years.”