£1m invested into UK niche vehicle projects at Cenex-LCV

One million pounds worth of funding has been awarded to four innovative UK niche vehicle technology projects by the Niche Vehicle Network at the UK Government Pavilion during this year’s Cenex-LCV show

The announcement was made by The Niche Vehicle Network (NVN), in conjunction with the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), marking a successful end to the NVN 2022 Production Readiness Competition.

The Niche Vehicle Network Production Readiness Competition, sponsored by the APC and supported by Innovate UK, provides a platform for collaborative research and development for organisations active in the UK zero emission niche vehicle technology sector. As part of a ceremony held at the UK Government Pavilion, £1m in grant funding was distributed amongst the four winning projects.

Among the winners was an Amphibious e-All Terrain Vehicle (e-ATV) for fire and rescue, agriculture, and in-field broadcasting. The vehicle is to be manufactured by iNetic Ltd, Customised Composites Ltd, and Whinwhistle Coarse Fishery. Designed as an alternative to internal combustion engine equivalents, the vehicle comprises an electric drivetrain, with both chassis and body designed and manufactured in the UK.

Another project awarded funding was that of a sustainable and durable EV beach buggy. The vehicle features new suspension, a stiff perimeter-frame-plus-backbone chassis and integrated 160kW motor/gearbox/differential/inverter unit, powered by a battery pack which provides a 90–100-mile range. The initiative was the result of a collaboration between UK firms Hall Engineering and Design, EcoClassics, and Pie Valley Buggies.

A new efficient, lightweight aero wheel rim named HELAR, led by Carbon Threesixty and supported by Composite Integration and Rimstock, was also awarded funding.

The cost-effective, fully composite, aerodynamically efficient automotive wheel design combines light weighting and low drag to improve efficiency and performance. This combination overcomes the challenges associated with both low-speed stop start city driving (inertia) as well as the high-speed cruise (drag), enabling a significant range extension for both passenger and commercial Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV).

The fourth and final niche vehicle project to leave Cenex-LCV with funding was named EV Mode, a collaboration between FAR-UK Ltd, Lightweight Structural Composite Panel Technologies Ltd, and 3J Driveline Ltd. The project will demonstrate a generic front-end drive module suitable for sub-A segment M1 passenger, and L category vehicles. Its ‘out-of-the-box’ bolt-on front-end drive module incorporates an e-axle with integrated inverter, braking, steering, suspension and crashworthiness. All components in the design are size and mass appropriate, offering a quicker route to market for light-weight energy efficient vehicles.

The competition provides a springboard for niche automotive SMEs, providing them with crucial financial support and expertise in navigating the final stage of developing new technologies to a production readiness standard.

Scott Thompson, Programme Manager at the Niche Vehicle Network, said: “Congratulations to the four winners of the NVN 2022 Production Readiness Competition.

“It’s wonderful to see the incredible eMobility projects produced for the niche vehicle sector, at a critical time for electrification in the UK. We are proud to facilitate these powerful partnerships which are leading the way in sustainable cutting-edge technology design and pushing the boundaries on what is possible for BEV and FCEV vehicles.

“We look forward to seeing the benefits of these sustainable models for the automotive sector, once they are replicated for commercial customers; further proof that funded competitions such as this provide a springboard for emerging players within the EV supply chain, providing a welcome boost to the UK’s flourishing net-zero automotive industry.”

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Niche Vehicle Network (NVN)

The Niche Vehicle Network is a free to join, independent network of UK niche vehicle manufacturers, specialist technology, design, and engineering organisations.

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