It’s a step in the right direction but much more needs to be done – that’s the verdict of What Car? after the government today (Mar 30) pledged more than £30m to boost research into battery technology and hydrogen vehicles.
Minister for investment Gerry Grimstone said £9.4m would be spent on 22 studies to develop innovative automotive technology.
They include proposals for a plant in Cornwall that will extract lithium to use in electric vehicle batteries, one in Cheshire to build specialised magnets for EV motors, plus lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans in Loughborough.
In addition, the government-backed Faraday Institution is committing the first year of a £22.6m programme to continue its work on further improving battery safety, reliability and sustainability.
The move is part of the government’s plan to end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 and to build back more greenly from the pandemic.
Grimstone said: ‘We have set an ambitious target to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
‘To support that, it is crucial we invest in research so we can power ahead with the shift to electric vehicles as we build back greener from the pandemic.
‘The world-leading research announced today showcases the very best of British innovation and will support all stages of the automotive supply chain to make the switch to electric vehicles – from developing batteries to exploring how to recycle them.’
The government said investment in battery technology would help motorists and the environment by improving performance and reducing EV costs.
It added that it was also good for businesses and workers as it supported the creation of new jobs, new industries and developing technologies to power the automotive and energy revolution in the UK.
Reacting to the announcement, Jim Holder, editorial director at What Car?, said: ‘Government investment is crucial if the UK wants to remain at the forefront of automotive manufacturing and development in the future.
‘Currently, there are zero battery plants in the country and just one planned – something that will need to change soon, especially as the government’s own 2030 deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars looms closer.
‘While this is a step in the right direction, this cannot be the only one made. The investments into electric vehicle development and manufacturing will have to be significantly higher.
‘With plants like Ellesmere Port looking to transform into electric vehicle assembly sites, the government needs to support the industry further to achieve the once-in-a-century change towards electric vehicles, especially as it is the one setting the deadlines for the switchover.’
Pictured is the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car
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