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UK motor developers benefit from £92m vehicle programme

23 November, 2020

UK companies working on novel electric motor technologies are to receive millions of pounds of funding as part of a £92m government/industry scheme to accelerate decarbonisation of the automotive sector and to help achieve net-zero emissions. A total of 49 projects will receive investments, coordinated by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The funding has been allocated to two competitions, as well as the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), which will provide £17m of investment for 31 feasibility studies into the future of green manufacturing and economic recovery for the UK. The money will support commercially-led r&d of manufacturing, and the scaling-up of products for future automotive supply chains.

One of the competitions, called APC16, is providing £59m of funding – split between industry and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – to back six projects projected to secure almost 3,000 jobs in the UK.

One of the beneficiaries is Saietta, the Oxfordshire-based developer and manufacturer of axial-flux motors, which has won funding to fast-track the planning process to produce up to 150,000 motors per year, and the hiring of 250 skilled personnel. Saietta will work with the tooling specialist Brabdauer and the resin manufacturer AEV to refine component manufacturing and motor assembly for an automated production process.

Saietta claims that its patent-protected modular motors will deliver “class-leading torque, power and efficiency, combined with a compact, lightweight structure and a design optimised for mass manufacture”. It adds that the project will deliver “significant increases in capacity and capability within the UK electric motors supply chain”, and will put the UK at the forefront of high-value axial-flux motor manufacturing.

Another APC16 project – called Arrival – aims to develop a new manufacturing model for producing electric drives for vans, using Industry 4.0 technologies for vertical integration of modular robotic manufacturing, aimed at cutting capital costs while providing flexibility.

The second competition, called the Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator (ARMD), is investing £16.5m in 12 projects, with participants including Ford, Lotus and Jaguar Land Rover.

Saietta claims that its axial-flux motor technology delivers “class-leading torque, power and efficiency”

One of the ARMD projects is a “game-changing” manufacturing cell for permanent magnet motor stators, claimed to be “unrivalled” in its cost, flexibility, scalability and ease of adoption. The Aims (Artificial Intelligence in Stator Manufacturing Solutions) project involves the Somerset-based motor manufacturing specialist Electrified Automation, the AI-powered machine learning and automated decision-making developer Lightfoot, and Horizon Instruments, which will be responsible for building and delivering the cell. Together they are planning to offer “a world-first fully connected manufacturing and supply chain solution”.

A second ARMD project will be led by the US-headquartered motor and generator designer ePropelled which has patented a “disruptive” electronic magnetic gearing (EMG) technology that enhances the performance of EV traction motors and batteries. Working with Embed and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC), ePropelled – which has an innovation centre in Wales – is developing EMG technology to deliver “groundbreaking” efficiencies to vehicles.

A third ARMD winner is a collaborative project, led by the Milton Keynes-based motor and power electronics module manufacturer Empel Systems, which is aiming to create families of efficient, power-dense electric motors and energy storage systems to accelerate progress to cost-effective electrified vehicles – especially those that operate with dynamic duty cycles and need high-power electrification. The project aims to save over 450,000 tonnes of CO2 per year and to create more than 400 jobs.

APC CEO Ian Constance, says the investment in the 49 projects “demonstrates the real and ongoing commitment of government and industry working together to advance the UK’s vibrant automotive technology development sector towards a net-zero future”.

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