Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is among three new research and development projects to have won the backing of the UK government's 25-million Pounds grant, aimed at accelerating the development of innovative low-carbon vehicle technologies. The funding will be provided through the UK's Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) enabling JLR and others to drive the development of low-carbon propulsion technologies and their supply chains. "The centre will help JLR adapt their existing engine production facilities to be capable of making electric vehicles," UK Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said at the annual Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) event in London. He said that modern industrial strategies are being used to unlock economic opportunities. "Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are harnessing our globally-renowned automotive heritage and engineering excellence to unlock the economic opportunities future vehicle technologies present to businesses across the country," he said.
JLR's project will bring together a consortium of academic and industry partners, with the aim of developing strategies and capabilities to produce electric drive units alongside internal combustion engines at its manufacturing facilities.
A second project led by Ford will work with a consortium to collaborate on the development of digital engineering tools for a new engineering process that enables the next generation of electrified commercial vehicle technologies to be developed and brought to the market much quicker.
The third major R&D project will be led by Arcola Energy to bring to market complete fuel cell electric powertrains, develop an integrated motor drive unit, strengthen UK capability in battery packs supply and demonstrate hydrogen technology on a commercial vehicle.
The projects, valued at 54 million Pounds in total including the grant funding from the APC, are expected to save around 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 and help build the future of major UK automotive facilities, creating and safeguarding a total of 1,750 jobs. The announcement coincided with a new survey released by UK automotive representative organisation SMMT, which warned the government against the "catastrophe" of a no-deal Brexit.
More than half of auto industry respondents to the survey said their operations have already suffered as a result of uncertainty about future trading arrangements and almost a third said they had postponed or cancelled UK investment decisions because of Brexit.
"Frictionless trade as part of the EU single market and Customs Union has driven the success of the UK automotive industry so the fact we are leaving is already painful, and already causing damage. Leaving without a deal would be catastrophic plants will close, jobs will be lost," Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said.
In much-needed support to British Prime Minister Theresa May's recently concluded Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, he said: "Leaving is not what we wanted, but we recognise that the Withdrawal Agreement has been hard-fought and, crucially, delivers a transition period which steps us back from the cliff-edge."
"No deal is not an option. In the short term, crashing out of the EU would have immediate and devastating impacts, with border chaos disrupting the 'Just-in-Time' basis on which our business depends," SMMT President Tony Walker, who is also Managing Director of Toyota Motor Europe, said.
Theresa May is lobbying and campaigning various groups and MPs in the lead up to the crucial parliamentary vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, scheduled for December 11. Unless a deal is passed through, Britain faces the prospect of crashing out of the European Union in a no-deal scenario in March next year after a June 2016 referendum in favour of Brexit.