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Economy Minister announces further £1m investment in green vehicle innovation

The Welsh Government will co-fund a third round of investment in greener and cleaner innovation through the Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund as part of its response to the climate emergency, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, announced this week.

Set up by the Ford Motor Company in 2020, the Welsh Government-administered fund addresses strategic industrial technical challenges associated with low-carbon vehicles, including electrical energy storage, electric motors, power electronics and powertrains. Collaboration and building new future supply chains are key elements of the Fund.

One of the first projects to be funded is a project being led by Caerphilly-based advanced research and development firm Deregallera.

Electric motors have been in use for decades. Of the many different motor types, permanent magnet motors offer the best performance. However, nearly 85% of the world’s reserves of the special materials needed for permanent magnets come from China. In addition to the geo-political issues that result from relying on one country for natural resources, current practices mean this finite resource is being depleted, which results in worrying environmental issues, including concerns about the long-term sustainability of distributing “rare earth” material around the globe.

The Deregallera-led project involves the design of an alternative motor for electric vehicles that is less harmful to the global environment.

Martin Boughtwood of Deregallera explains:

“This project to create a high-efficiency, high-torque density motor without or with substantially fewer permanent magnets will add to our high-performance motor and inverter offerings, providing customers with a secure supply chain alternative solution if these sources become too costly or constrained.”

Another project that’s received support from the fund is Bangor-based The Denis Ferranti Group. The firm are using funding to support HYDENSE, a project aiming to seize a significant proportion of the global electric traction motor market by optimising machine performance against cost. This is being achieved by leveraging Denis Ferranti Group’s motor design capability in combination with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s (AMRC Cymru) extensive knowledge of latest manufacturing techniques.

The next round of funding, which opens today, will see up to £1m invested in projects by the end of 2024.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“This is an important fund which will help to deliver our ambitious 2050 net zero commitments. In February, I launched our Innovation Strategy to create a stronger, fairer, and greener Wales. I want to see an economy that innovates for growth, where organisations collaborate and adopt new technologies to create solutions to society’s challenges.

“The Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund is an example of our flexible support for innovation. The Fund has already supported eight Welsh-based organisations and I am keen to extend the opportunity to others.

“This is a great example of government working with industry to create new green jobs in the industries of the future.”