Advanced electric vehicle innovation and research center opens in UK

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GKN Automotive, a specialist in drive systems, has announced its new Advanced Research Centre – created to develop next-generation eDrive systems powering future electrified vehicles and increase engineering capability in the UK to meet Net Zero commitment.

GKN Automotive is partnering with the University of Nottingham and Newcastle University to push the boundaries of eDrive technology and accelerate modular innovation. The world-class collaboration will focus on the development of ultra-high efficiency EDUs for future electric vehicles.

GKN Automotive’s £3.5 million investment in the Advanced Research Centre, which is co-located across three leading engineering facilities, is being partly supported through the Melrose Skills Fund, to increase the automotive electrification knowledge capability and strengthen research and development in the UK.

The project will be virtually shared between the engineering departments at the University of Nottingham and Newcastle University, with research teams at each university operating collaboratively with engineers at the GKN Automotive Innovation Centre.

Gordon Day, managing director, GKN Automotive Innovation Centre, said: “GKN Automotive is a pioneer of advanced eDrive development and this new research partnership will play a key role in strengthening the innovation of electrification technologies for future advanced propulsion systems.

“We are extremely proud that this research will be in partnership with Newcastle University and the University of Nottingham, two renowned and respected global leaders in automotive electrification engineering research. Both institutions will also play a leading role in helping us develop a supply of high-caliber engineering talent, which is essential to enable us to put the UK at the forefront of global automotive industry innovation.”

This collaborative research not only spearheads the development of disruptive technology innovations in eDrive but supports the UK’s technology roadmap set out by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). It also further strengthens GKN Automotive’s collaborative links within the UK Innovation Network.

Both partner universities are part of the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s ‘spoke’ community. The initiative brings together specialist academic, technological, and commercial expertise from across the UK to share best practice for the development of low emission propulsion technologies. The University of Nottingham is the APC’s spoke for power electronics, and home to the Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) Industrialisation Centre – Midlands; while Newcastle University is the spoke for electric motors, and leads the national network of four DER Industrialisation Centres including the Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre – North East.

The centers are backed by £33m UK Government funding (UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), providing open access facilities with state-of-the-art equipment. They bring together the UK’s technology and manufacturing expertise in electrification research and development. The network will help propel UK manufacturing to the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change and ensure the UK can reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The Melrose Skills Fund is a £10m fund, allocated over five years across the UK, developing and promoting engineering skills and encouraging the next generation of engineers. The first phase of investment through GKN Automotive saw the launch of the Skills Development Programme at the Abingdon Innovation Centre, supporting the development of engineering skills through STEM engagement, apprenticeships, training opportunities and internal staff upskilling. This next phase now focuses on research.

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