By Claire West

Government has pledged further support for the automotive industry yesterday by announcing the creation of a new ‘UK Energy Storage R&D Centre’ for the advancement of electric and hybrid vehicle batteries.

Co-funded by Government (£9 million) and industry (£4 million), the £13 million centre will be created to capitalise on the growing electric and hybrid vehicle battery market, which has been estimated to be worth £250 million for the UK by 2020.

The centre is the latest move by Government to secure future growth opportunities for the UK’s automotive sector, building on its £400m commitment over the next four years to supporting electric cars and other ultra-low carbon vehicles.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“I’m pleased to announce this joint Government and industry project to develop an energy storage R&D centre at the University of Warwick. It will put the UK in a much stronger, competitive position to capitalise on a growing worldwide market for low carbon vehicles, alongside other world leaders in the field including the United States, Japan and Germany.

“This £13 million facility will help accelerate the development of battery cells for the next generation of vehicles, is a vital investment in the future of the automotive sector. It complements over £5.5 billion that global vehicle manufacturers have committed to UK projects in the last 18 months.”

The Automotive Council Technology Group worked alongside Government to secure the funding for the new R&D centre.

Jerry Hardcastle, Chairman of the Group and Global Chief Marketability Engineer at Nissan Motor Company, said:

“The announcement of the UK Energy Storage R&D Centre is great news and is further evidence that collaboration between the Government, industry and academic institutions in the UK continues to create opportunities to increase innovation and further develop the supply chain in the automotive industry.”

David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes at the Technology Strategy Board said:

“The establishment of this centre will help to increase the global competitiveness of the UK’s emerging Low Carbon Vehicle’s industry.

“By locating the centre within the new High Value Manufacturing Catapult, it will be possible to draw on capabilities that have already been developed in energy storage and help to speed up the commercialisation of new products. The benefits that this centre brings will also spill over into wider markets.”

To be based within the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult at the University of Warwick, the centre will build on the UK’s world class research base in electrochemistry. It will focus on the development of a new generation of high performance batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles designed to be more economic and stable, yet boast higher energy density levels than those currently available on the market.

The centre will focus on the immediate priority of batteries for the low and ultra low carbon vehicles, but it will have the potential to extend to storage for other transport applications including commercial and off-road vehicles, rail and marine, and to other technologies such as fuel cells.