Niche Vehicle Network R&D Competition

Xtrac are pleased to have secured a share of a £2.5 million investment, supported through grant funding provided by the Niche Vehicle Network R&D Competition. The investment will assist with the development of low carbon vehicle technologies that reduce CO2 emissions and will help to build the UK’s supply chain.

Xtrac, RML Group and Caterham Cars were awarded a share of the £2.5 million investment at the 2019 Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Event, held at Millbrook Proving Ground on 5th September.

The Niche Vehicle Network is a free to join networking and support organisation focused on enabling UK low volume vehicle manufacturers, design and engineering companies to research and develop innovative low carbon vehicle technologies. The Network is funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, Innovate UK, the Advanced Propulsion Centre and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Hybridisation of the powertrain is an automotive megatrend, with vehicle manufacturers looking to electrify their products, however the costly nature of developing and manufacturing a hybrid system is a big drawback to its application in niche vehicle products. Xtrac have collaborated with project partners RML Group and Caterham Cars and will collaborate to share their industry knowledge, skills and expertise to investigate the integration of a 48V mild hybrid (MHEV) system for low volume road-car applications, in a cost-effective solution, which provides numerous environmental and drivability benefits.

Xtrac have previously undertaken a study into the integration of an electric drive unit into their P1046 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) motorsport gearbox. In the BTCC application, the 48V MHEV system will be capable of delivering the features and requirements set by the series regulator. The electric drive unit technology being developed for the motorsport application will directly influence the technology needed in the road-car application, including an innovative hybrid control strategy combining one pedal driving, a state-of-the-art energy management strategy and an e-clutch which will offer significant benefits in urban low speed driving environments.

James Setter - right, at NVN Cheque Prestation with Richard Ambrose (RML), Dan West and Harrison Baker (Caterham Cars)