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Funds awarded to UK battery supply chain for high performance, low carbon vehicles

2nd March 2016

Companies expect to create more than 50 new jobs after pilot to develop innovative new technology. 

A consortium led by Thurso based AGM Batteries has been awarded funding towards a £5.4 million project to develop the next generation of battery packs for high performance, low carbon vehicles.

The UK Automotive Battery Supply Chain project aims to capitalise on world leading UK innovations in the area of battery technology. Currently most of the technology within the battery systems used by the UK automotive industry is sourced  from overseas suppliers, so this project aims to capitalise on the UKs strong battery technology research base and bring production back to the UK to serve demand from a changing automotive industry, as they drive to deliver innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions and improve performance.

The collaborative project combines UK innovations and knowledge from five partners; AGM Batteries (a battery cell manufacturer), Dukosi (a leader in smart battery management technology), Johnson Matthey Battery Systems (a battery pack manufacturer), Warwick Manufacturing Group (an academic group with specialist battery knowledge and facilities) and Cosworth (a world leading high performance powertrain developer).

The project will allow the five partners to each bring unique capabilities and technologies into the development of a market leading high performance battery pack. At the end of the project the consortium will be able to manufacture these batteries in the UK, creating in excess of 50 new jobs. A number of letters of support from potential customers have already been received, further demonstrating the demand for locally manufactured, competitively priced, high performance products. 

Funding has been provided by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), which was set up at the end of 2013 as a 10-year £1 billion partnership between industry and government to build UK industrial capability through the research, development and industrialisation of low carbon propulsion technologies.

APC Director for Technology and Projects, Jon Beasley said: “The announcement of the fourth round competition winners demonstrates the government’s on-going commitment to supporting the UK’s low carbon advanced propulsion system innovation ecosystem. Co-investment in technological developments to be delivered by industry-led consortia, range from high risk incremental growth programmes to innovative cutting edge R&D, showing the UK is committed to establishing itself as a global centre for the promotion and development of low carbon propulsion systems.”

Ian Whiting, Business Development Director of consortium lead AGM Batteries Ltd is excited by the prospects of this project. “The UK has a strong reputation for automotive development and manufacturing and is also very strong on battery technology research. This project pulls much of that together, creating a team of respected industry partners, each bringing a specialism to the table. What we have is the basis of a complete UK supply chain for automotive batteries from ‘powder to power’. The project aims to prove leading edge, new technologies in a high performance system that can subsequently be manufactured cost effectively in the UK. This funding, in addition to the significant funding being invested by AGM and our partners will allow us to prove that we have the skills and ambition in the UK to produce world leading, innovative battery products.

Gordon Povey, CEO, Dukosi, commented, "Today's automotive battery management systems typically use centralised architectures with large amounts of wiring. In this project Dukosi’s smart BMS technology will be embedded within each cell during the manufacturing process. This disruptive approach will minimise battery wiring, reduce manufacturing costs, and will also improve system performance by using Dukosi’s unique independent cell level battery models. We are confident that this APC4 project will lead the way for next generation battery systems that will be used in tomorrow’s low carbon vehicles and for other large battery applications."

Bruce Wood – Cosworth Managing Director, Powertrain, said, “Cosworth is delighted to have the opportunity to further our hybrid technology strategy through involvement with this exciting new project. We are particularly pleased to be able to develop our in-house capabilities to enable hybrid technology for internal combustion engines and to play an integral role in this latest innovation within the UK automotive industry.”  

Anne Risse, General Manager JMBS Automotive added, “The exciting aspect of this project from Johnson Matthey Battery Systems’ perspective is the creation of a robust and reliable UK supply chain for lithium battery manufacture from cell level through to a full scalable systems. The potential for unique UK IP creation within all the consortium partners further underlines the importance of achieving the project goals for not just proving but establishing a UK-based supply chain. One that can be readily scaled up and provide the market place with innovative battery system solutions that meets the major challenges facing automotive electrification in the years ahead for the UK and globally. JMBS are looking forward to working closely with all the partners in this project to deliver a supply chain that can support volume manufacture thus establishing the UK as an important centre for global lithium battery systems development and supply.”

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