The roadmap to success

Following New Mobility’s visit to Aston Martin’s Gaydon factory, Prodrive’s Banbury facility and The University of Warwickshire, Alex Kreetzer takes a look at The Advanced Propulsion Center’s Automotive Technology Roadmap and how it will affect the UK automotive industry.  

The technical innovations needed to deliver ambitious plans for future low carbon vehicles in the UK were revealed with the launch of the Automotive Technology Roadmap Report. Published by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), on behalf of the Automotive Council, the report draws on the expertise of 139 organisations from vehicle manufacturers and technology suppliers to consultants and academics. “After decades of evolution, vehicle technology is now at an inflexion point, changing faster than at any time in the last 100 years. That presents a tremendous opportunity for British businesses,” states Advanced Propulsion Centre CEO Ian Constance. “This new analysis will help investors, innovators and the government understand which technologies need to be developed as we drive at increasing speed to low carbon transport, helping them make the decisions that will ensure the UK remains a global player in the $1 trillion global market by 2030 for low and zero tailpipe emissions vehicle technologies.” 

Towards 2040, APC’s road map has - and will continue - to identify trends and drivers in the rapidly developing automotive industry, from the effect of tailpipe emissions on EV adoption and battery development in the UK, to the rise of connected and autonomous vehicles. In terms of electrification, it is quite clear that there is a need for new materials to deliver change in cost and performance, through power density and price. Dave OudeNijeweme, who is the Head of technology trends at the APC and is responsible for the road map, believes that it is important for businesses to identify fundamental changes that will have a dramatic impact on the way that the industry plans and evaluates this kind of automotive innovation. “Most future powertrain options require substantial battery capacity, but the environmental impact of these systems cannot be controlled through traditional vehicle-focused regulation,” he explains. “This means a different approach to decision making is required, even before we consider trends in the availability of raw materials. The Roadmap is aimed to be of great value to decision makers across many sectors, by providing insights into areas of growing complexity, as well as the impact new business models such as mobility-as-a-service might have on technology.” 

By 2030, 90% of new vehicles will have some form of electrification, be that hybrid for full-EV, through a political drive for lower CO2 emissions, dieselgate and a faster than expected uptake for EVs in the UK. Through this groundbreaking change, the industry must bridge the gap between old and new automotive ideas, shifting focus towards new topics such as battery cell and powertrain development. Change is coming, but the UK must have a plan in place to exploit the benefits that will arrive in the next few years.  

Aston Martin
Aston Martin: Sustainable luxury

Even when it comes to the high-end of the automotive market, there is a need for change. Iconic British manufacturer Aston Martin, the fastest growing brand in the UK, has identified this huge shift and introduced a second century plan for sustainable luxury. Vehicle Line Director, Large Car Platform, Andy Haslam explains that the company has already achieved “stabalisation,” and is en route to “strengthen Aston Martin’s core and expand its portfolio over the next two years.” Actions like this really show that the top players in the industry, especially in the UK, are prepared to make significant changes to their business structure in order to succeed and build up the region’s reputation on a global scale. “The needs and wants of our customers are changing and we, the iconic British car company, must continue to create the best products possible,” Haslam continues. “We will introduce seven new models over the next seven years and follow the megatrends in order to capatalise on the emerging innovations, such as connected and autonomous technology.” Included in the lineup will be the world’s first all-electric high performance luxury vehicle, through the rebirth of the company’s “114 year-old “startup, Lagonda.  

Technology is a major part of our lives and our vehicles are no exception; Aston Martin has addressed this and has restructured in order to cater for new markets, such as mobility and digitalisation. “Instead of buying a car that sits on the drive, mobility solutions allow a more efficient answer,” says Haslam. “In addition, the growing demand for connectivity means that automakers have to focus on integrating technology with people’s digital lives.” With these innovations, it is also important for carmakers to protect customers’ data. According to Haslam, half a billion people’s information was stolen last year, which will soon become a massive issue to the automotive industry once most cars are connected to the cloud. “We first want to prevent cyber attacks and are working hard to solve this,” continues Haslam. By prioritising protecting its customers, Aston Martin can maintain its brand promise of sustainable luxury, which is crucial to the British icon’s identity. And, through new zero emission vehicles, the company will continue to expand its business and gain access to the global HPEV market. 

Drivetrains of the future

It is very difficult to analyse and predict consumer demand over EVs in the early stages, but the APC and UK government is encouraging players to get involved and invest in future transport over this transitional phase. One area which is thriving with electrification and innovation is, of course, the motorsport industry. However, as we have seen in the past, these new technologies are forming the basis of EVs on our roads today and in the near future. John Morton, Engineering Director at Drive System Design, has been working with the APC, GKN Driveline and Nottingham University the AceDrive. Drive System Design promotes system integration and optimisation across the design, development and control of transmission systems and electrified powertrains. He explains how vital it is to prepare for the EV boom and introduce new components that can cater for future transportation, whether that be EVs or even autonomous vehicles. 

John Morton, Engineering Director at Drive System Design

“We have seen as much development in vehicle technology today than we have seen in the last 20 years. Now, more than ever, it is important to be agile and prepare for what is ahead,” he says. Drivetrains of the future will be powered, more compact, lighter, integrated and intelligent systems that will allow manufactures to monitor the component for faults which will increase vehicle efficiency. Once we start to see this adopted on a larger scale from the OEMs, it will revolutionise vehicles by increasing performance and durability thanks to electrical components instead of traditional drivetrains found in internal combustion engines today. “Through our AceDrive project, we can continue our R&D and work towards hyper efficient drive systems in EVs,” adds Morton.  

Following Morton, Theo Gassmann, Vice President of Advanced Engineering at GKN Driveline discusses the UK’s innovation ecosystem and the major advancements in integration and performance of passenger car electric drivetrains. With 50% of the world’s cars containing some form of GKN technology and used by every single major OEM, the company is preparing to maintain these attractive figures by developing its eAxle and AceDrive, with a goal of £2 billion generated from the components over the next five years. GKN is on its way to becoming a global eDrive leader beyond 2025, with five technology and innovation centres across the US, UK, Germany, China and Japan, propelling the drive towards mass adoption of HEV/BEVs. “The mission is to create lighter, quieter, more efficient EVs through products differentiated by depth of engineering and cost effective manufacturing,” says Gassmann. Innovations like the AceDrive are made possible through technology road maps like what the APC has introduced, which are built from a range of direct industry inputs that provide credible frameworks which help the industry target future eDrive development. “By moving from eAxle to full eDrive systems, GKN can expect a 400% increase in value and earn a potential market share of 1.2 billion per annum by 2030.” Although this would require a huge shift in the business structure, GKN has the scale to support a wide range of customers and capitalise on an emerging market that will eclipse ICE drivetrains.  

A joint effort 

Constance points out that 10% of UK manufacturing is automotive, so answering these questions and supporting the commercialisation of the resulting high-impact innovations will help British businesses – from technology innovators and suppliers to vehicle manufacturers – grow profitably in a fast-changing global market. “Through the APC, we are able to facilitate an investment of £1 billion of government and industry money to help British businesses validate and commercialise their innovations. New technologies disappear because the UK lacks the market pull innovators need to bridge this most challenging phase of innovation,” he says. “The APC exists to make sure the best ideas succeed, creating affordable low-emission technologies that deliver jobs and value for Great Britain. The insights provided by our new Automotive Technology Roadmap will help us all ensure we succeed in delivering the required low carbon technologies.” 

In order for the UK automotive industry to see positive change, there needs to be a closer collaboration between the innovators, government and the transport sectors, which is what the new APC Automotive Technology Roadmap is ultimately designed for. “How can the UK’s impressive chemical sector help accelerate automotive battery development? How can our steel industry help progress advanced traction motors? How can the suppliers of mobility-on-demand inform our powertrain decisions?” Constance questions. “Automotive technology is one of the fastest-moving global innovation sectors. The new report will help those inside and outside to understand the opportunities and the challenges, leading to better decisions, increased efficiency in the innovation process and faster introduction of practical, affordable low emission vehicles.”  

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