UK aims to take lead with alternative fuels

While Britain is no longer a manufacturing powerhouse, the importance of its engineering, scientific and technological industries is in rather rude health.

The UK's automotive engineering sector has long been one of the most innovative and industrious, and with intiatives such as Energy Efficient Motor Sport Accelerate leading the way, a consortium of specialist car manufacturers established in 2004 to promote sustainability in the motorsport and performance car industries.

'The thinking behind motorsport does translate to energy efficiency," Marc de Jong, senior project consultant to EEMS Accelerate, says. 'What is used to go faster in motorsport can be used to go farther in a sustainable road car. Several small British companies were working on electric vehicles, so we banded them together in a consortium.'

Within the consortium, four outfits co-operate, sharing expertise while developing electric vehicles. 'It's tough for these companies to survive, particularly in this economic climate, so by bundling together their strengths and taking care of some of their overheads, the consortium becomes much stronger than the individual,' adds de Jong.

And their work hasn't gone unnoticed by the government, from which they receive funding via the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

'EEMS Accelerate is one of eight consortia we fund as part of the Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator, which is a nationwide programme that funds about 340 new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles,' says Andrew Everitt, head of transport for the TSB.

'We support UK businesses that have innovative ideas and can help them bring those to market earlier. As the global market for low-carbon vehicles grows, UK industry will be there to play its part.'

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