LCV 2015 – the UK's largest technology showcase and networking event for the low-carbon vehicle community – takes place next month (9 and 10 September) at Millbrook Proving Ground. And, while the vast majority of exhibitors (and most of its conference programme), is unsurprisingly focused on the automotive sector, the event looks set to cover technology for commercial vehicles too.
The event is run by CENEX, the UK's centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies. However, that organisation also lists key partners as Innovate UK, BIS (the Department of Business Innovation and Skills), LowCVP (Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership), OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles), SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) and UKTI (UK Trade and Investment). So it's a weighty affair, aimed primarily at parading UK capabilities to the world.
That said, the organisers are keen to emphasise the event's role in stimulating fleet managers' interest in low-carbon vehicles. To this end, visitors will find some 180 technology and service exhibitors, as well as a technical seminar programme and facilitated networking. There's also a ride and drive aspect, with prototypes as well as commercially available vehicles.
All this comes at an auspicious moment for the transport sector and low-carbon vehicles in particular. At a pre-event launch last month, former Ford UK chairman Jo Greenwell (now head of the Automotive Investment Organisation at UKTI) quoted SMMT figures indicating that the UK is now the third largest manufacturer of cars in Europe and the second largest market, with growth far exceeding the rest of the continent.
Further, UK vehicle CO2 emissions have fallen 31% since 2000, production sustainability has improved and the country now produces 11.5 cars and CVs per person per year – way ahead of nearest rivals Germany and France (source: ACEA). What's more, sales of ULEVs (ultra-low emission vehicles) have quadrupled against last year. "The UK is surging ahead," asserted Greenwell.
Why? In part, because of government support, he said. "We've implemented a series of measures to ensure that the UK maintains its lead, spearheaded by a £500 million budget for ULEVs from 2015 to 2020." That includes £5,000 grants for ULEV purchasers and £30 million support for other vehicle types, including vans. There are also: £30 million for green cities, £20 million for local authorities (for ULEV taxis, etc); £30 million for ultra-low emission buses; £100 million for ULEV R&D; and £5 million to support uptake in government fleets.
And there is the 10-year, £1 billion investment in low-carbon drivetrains, in the form of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC); £200 million in 'intelligent mobility'; and the country's impressive light-weighting community at Warwick Manufacturing (home of the National Propulsion Showcase).
Clearly, the climate in the UK is good for low-emission vehicles. Look at the APC's role in co-funding development of GKN's Gyrodrive flywheel energy storage system, now being fitted to city buses by Alexander Dennis. And Innovate UK's part in co-funding DAF's lightweight 12-tonne LF truck. Small wonder the industry is attracting billions of inward investment.
So what can you expect at the event? Ones to watch include Autogas, Integral Powertrain, Intelligent Energy, Intertek, Millbrook, MIRA, Ogunmuyiwa, TEVVA and ULEMCo.
Autogas is promising more than its LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) fuelled Fiat Doblo. The company is working to promote the virtues of LPG (nationwide refuelling infrastructure; 40% reduction in fuel costs) and says key to its approach is getting away from cowboy converters by certifying approved installers. To date, the organisation is listing five, but says that will rise to 20 by year end. And with conversion costs set at £1—2,000, payback periods of 12 months seem realistic.
As for Integral Powertrain, the company says it will be revealing latest developments with its engine downsizing technology SuperGen, as well as enhancements for micro- and mild-hybrids. The SuperGen booster combines a two electrical machine B-ISG (belt-driven integrated starter-generator) with an intermediate epicyclic traction drive and centrifugal compressor (mechanical drive with electrical assist).
It is claimed to enable engine downsizing by 60%, while retaining transient response, plus down-speeding to further reduce emissions. Chief engineer Jason King says that, following the company's joint venture with Magna Powertrain, we can expect to see its technology in heavy-duty vehicles by 2020. "We're already working with one of the OEMs."
Meanwhile, Intelligent Energy will be focusing on its hydrogen fuel cells, including its air-cooled 80kW motive power version, which is being integrated into a new class of range-extended, zero emission, light commercial vehicles. The project is part of a £6.3 million, three-year APC-funded consortium with Frost EV, Millbrook, CENEX, British Gas and DHL.
Dan Skelton, business development director, says the consortium has developed a package that can be integrated into vehicles at OEM end of line or by vehicle converters. Initially targeted at return-to-base fleet operators, advantages include: increased access to restricted emission zones; and faster refuelling times than recharging.
Elsewhere, global engineering test specialist Intertek will be majoring on its new low-carbon powertrain development facility in Milton Keynes. The site – acquired from Tickford Powertrain Test in 2013 – is now Intertek's European centre of excellence for electric and hybrid drivetrain testing. According to chief engineer David Meek, the centre's 1,000kW test cells are designed for truck, bus and off-highway testing, while its 1,000V, 300kW battery simulator and 300kW traction motor dynamometer rig are aimed squarely at chunky electric machines and EV drivelines.
But mechanical engineering will also feature. Ogunmuyiwa Motorentechnik will be talking about its novel take on the ICE. This centres on the founder/developer's patented planetary gear reciprocating piston engine, said to offer far higher thermal efficiency than conventional equivalents. The secret is his tangential arrangement of the cylinder axes to the main shaft, enabling higher power densities and reduced emissions, but without the sealing problems associated with the Wankel engine.
Meanwhile, TEVVA Motors intends to show its battery-electric 7.5 tonne delivery truck, which includes a diesel range extender (1.6 litre, replacing the original 4.5 litre engine) and the ability to convert to hydrogen. Chief executive Robin Hilton says the vehicle, which is currently undergoing durability tests at Millbrook, is based on a JAC chassis cab (China's second largest truck manufacturer and exporter), so won't fall at the first hurdle of volume production.
This is clever: TEVVA is offering PREMS (predictive range extender management) software, which automatically optimises range extender usage against daily duty (minimising emissions in sensitive areas). Additionally, charging is via a conventional three-phase depot power supply. And while wannabe users will lose 2 tonnes payload, because of the batteries, Hilton claims they can expect significant fuel savings. He also says that Tevva is retrofitting a Mercedes Vario delivery truck for UPS ahead of an 18-month trial.
And finally, diesel-to-hydrogen vehicle conversion specialist ULEMCo will be majoring on its ultra-low emission dual-fuel Ford Transits, which have now clocked up 20,000 miles, using hydrogen. The vehicles have been running at 59g/km CO2, compared with 234g/km for the standard vehicles. CEO Amanda Lyne says the firm is targeting fleet owners who want to reduce CO2 emissions, but retain the unrestricted range and robust engineering of conventional vehicles.
Registration for the LCV 2015 event is free. Visit: www.cenex-lcv.co.uk