• 26 Jul
    Productiv comment: Britain to ban sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040

    Productiv comment: Britain to ban sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040

    The UK government has announced today that Britain will ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040.

    With Productiv’s focus being on the development of low carbon technologies and electric vehicles, this announcement is of particular interest to us and our partners.

    Here are a few initial thoughts on what we think this announcement could mean:

    This statement sends a message that the government’s firm intention is to reduce the use of fossil fuel over time – and eventually to eliminate it. The effect will be to reduce speculation and help to focus the efforts of vehicle manufacturers to produce less polluting vehicles.

    In practice, it is likely that the target of zero petrol and diesel engine cars sold will be reached before 2040, as electric vehicles improve and the case for traditional engines is impacted.

    Even without that effect the deadline set might result in a change in powertrain technology long before that date; which vehicle maker would start a new engine programme in say, 2035, knowing that by the time the engine reaches the market it would have a very short production life before being outlawed in major markets such as the UK, France and Germany etc. It will surely make better sense to go straight to a full electric powertrain.

    It will be interesting to see how much support the government will be prepared to offer to assist the industry to achieve this goal. There is a significant amount of work to be done to improve infrastructure for battery electric vehicles and/or hydrogen fuel cell power for example, and we will wait with interest to see what incentives will be offered to encourage stakeholders to switch technologies.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 21 Jun
    Queen’s Speech 2017: Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

    Queen’s Speech 2017: Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

    With a keen focus on both autonomous and electric vehicles, we watched today’s Queen Speech with interest as Her Majesty announced an Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.

    Here are a few initial thoughts from Productiv on the potential impact of the bill:

    Autonomous Vehicles:

    It’s likely that the biggest hurdles to the adoption of autonomous vehicles will be legislative rather than technical, so it is useful that the situation regarding insurance has been clarified.

    This should help to reduce uncertainty among investors and developers of self-driving technology.

    Electric Vehicles:

    Vehicle charging infrastructure is recognised as a key driver of electric vehicle adoption, and this move will encourage those who are concerned about the availability of charge points at key locations on their journey.

    Business models will need to deliver ease of use for drivers, and incentives for providers, to ensure charging points are correctly maintained.

    What the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill covers:

    • Extends compulsory motor vehicle insurance to cover the use of automated vehicles, to ensure compensation claims continue to be paid quickly, fairly and easily, in line with longstanding insurance practice
    • Allows the government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, and to require a set of common technical and operational standards. This will ensure charge points are convenient to access and work seamlessly right across the UK
    • These provisions would apply to England, Wales and Scotland
    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 08 Jun
    Insight: our top 5 takeaways from the SMMT Open Forum at Automechanika

    Insight: our top 5 takeaways from the SMMT Open Forum at Automechanika


    This week, joining over 300 automotive supply chain delegates from OEMs and tier ones, as well as small and medium sized suppliers, Productiv’s product strategy manager Tom Donnelly and head of sales & marketing Peter Needham headed to the SMMT Open Forum at Automechanika Birmingham.

    After a number of keynote presentations from senior industry figures, hearing about investment in new automotive technologies in the UK’s automotive supply chain, here are some interesting facts that Tom brought away with him:

    1. Nissan is now using second life batteries for domestic energy storage
    2. Each direct Nissan employee in the UK results in four employees in the supply chain
    3. Alan Draper, Ford Europe’s director of purchasing, told us that in London in 1903 the average speed of traffic was 8mph which is the same as it is today.
    4. Judith Richardson, Nissan Europe’s vice president of purchasing, explained how the company will use an app based on dating software to match drivers to suitable cars in their car sharing scheme in Paris – automotive can learn a great deal from other industries.
    5. This is echoed by the fact that the forum is sponsored by Ricoh; demonstrating how changes in the automotive industry are encouraging non-traditional suppliers to enter the sector.
    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 31 May
    World’s first liquid nitrogen hybrid bus completes trials

    World’s first liquid nitrogen hybrid bus completes trials

    A revolutionary hybrid bus that runs on both diesel and liquid nitrogen has completed a rigorous series of trials to bring it one step closer to the road.

    Productiv is proud to be part of the Innovate UK consortium that built and developed the game-changing vehicle.

    The hybrid bus – CE Power – is the first in the world to be powered by liquid nitrogen and was built by engineers at HORIBA MIRA.

    The bus uses alternative propulsion to address urban air pollution challenges and features a high-efficiency, zero emission Dearman engine powered by liquid nitrogen, alongside a conventional diesel engine. The hybrid system enables the bus to reduce noxious tail-pipe emissions, improving local air quality.

    Led by Dearman, the Innovate UK consortium also comprised Air Products, Cenex, Coventry University, HORIBA MIRA, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Productiv, and TRL (Transport Research Laboratory).

    Productiv’s part in the project included the design for the manufacture and assembly of the Dearman engine, and estimating costs for both the engine’s manufacture and for Make vs Buy. In addition, Productiv was also responsible for researching state-of-the-art facilities and volume facility design for the Dearman engine, and identifying the best supply chain.

    The bus uses a hybrid propulsion system to reduce emissions during acceleration after stopping. This portion of the bus’s drive cycle traditionally has a heavy impact on the diesel engine and can produce vast amounts of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions. As the Dearman engine produces none of these harmful emissions, it will enable the bus to continue to frequently stop to unload and pull away from a bus stop without expelling the same level of damaging pollutants.

    While driving at 20mph or below, the liquid nitrogen – stored in a low pressure insulated cylinder – is warmed up to the point of boiling, at which time it creates enough pressure to drive the multi-cylinder Dearman engine. The diesel engine kicks in once the bus reaches 20mph, as the bus requires less effort from the engine to operate at this speed.

    The bus trials were completed at HORIBA MIRA’s engineering facilities and proving ground in Nuneaton and included components and full system testing, along with an engineered drive cycle to simulate a standard bus route with a variety of stops.

    David Sanders, Dearman’s commercial director, commented: “As the UK wrestles with dangerous levels of urban air pollution, a bus that runs on ‘thin air’ represent a significant breakthrough. The Dearman engine has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of both buses and HGVs, reducing fuel consumption and cutting pollution.

    “Crucially, it can provide a cost effective alternative to other emerging zero emission technologies, whose environmental performance is often offset by complexity and cost. This successful trial could be the first step towards rolling out a British innovation to the streets of the UK and around the world.”

    The benefits of using liquid nitrogen over an electric hybrid bus include a much longer life, local production and easy refuelling. Batteries, which power many of the UK’s electric hybrids, require changing several times over the course of a bus’ lifetime, whereas the liquid nitrogen system will last the lifetime of the bus.

    Liquid nitrogen can be produced locally without the need for neodymium or lithium, which are both used by motors and batteries and sourced from overseas. Furthermore, refuelling liquid nitrogen can take a matter of minutes, enabling the bus to return to the road in a short timeframe.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 17 May
    Insight: our top 3 takeaways from the Vehicle2Grid conference in Amsterdam

    Insight: our top 3 takeaways from the Vehicle2Grid conference in Amsterdam

    Productiv is at the forefront of technology for the electrification of the automotive powertrain.

    That’s why our product strategy manager, Tom Donnelly, attended a conference in Amsterdam last week on ‘vehicle to grid’; a potential solution to the additional load that will be placed on the national grid when we all start charging our electric cars.

    These are the top three lessons Tom brought away with him:

    1. Chief technology officer for the City of Amsterdam, Ger Baron, explained to delegates that the Netherlands missed the first industrial revolution in the 17th century, which was driven by the steam engine, because the Dutch government was subject to powerful lobbying from the dominant wind power industry at the time. Now, however, it seems the situation has been completely reversed. A Dutch technology investor said that current opposition to wind turbines in the Netherlands means that the growth of wind power is now far behind other European countries such as Sweden, Spain and France.
    2. Vehicle to grid technology is already available in the shape of the Nissan Leaf. Following the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, the Japanese government asked Nissan to develop a vehicle to grid capability that could help power local facilities in an emergency. The result is that the original Leaf, with a battery capacity of 24kWh, can power a house for up to two days.
    3. The electric vehicle industry is giving rise to some unexpected new entrants. When the German post office, Deutsche Post, needed a small delivery van, they couldn’t find one that suited their particular needs. So they decided to build the van themselves! And it’s been so successful that they now sell electric delivery vans to other companies, and are even working on a larger van and an e-bike for mail delivery.

    Read more about the Vehicle2Grid conference here

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 10 May
    Productiv set to attend Vehicle 2 Grid Conference in Amsterdam

    Productiv set to attend Vehicle 2 Grid Conference in Amsterdam

    We’re looking forward to attending the Interreg North Sea Region (European Development Fund) and Innovate UK Vehicle 2 Grid Conference tomorrow and Friday.

    Our product strategy manager Tom Donnelly will deliver a pitch to the assembly to explain how Productiv works with technology developers to maximise their chance of commercial success.

    Productiv is at the forefront of technology for the electrification of the automotive powertrain. One of the issues associated with electric powertrains is the additional load that will be placed on the electricity grid network when we all charge our electric cars.

    However, cars themselves can be part of the solution to this problem.

    With many cars plugged in overnight – and throughout the day – to recharge their batteries, they can be used as an energy store to supplement the grid during periods of peak demand. This is one solution being proposed to minimise the investment in infrastructure required for the expected growth of adoption of electric vehicles.

    The procedure has become known as ‘Vehicle-to-Grid’, and is being looked at by several industries, including the electricity generators and distributors.

    This will benefit some of the technology developers that we are working with; for example Zapinamo, which provides mobile and remote charging services.

    Potentially any technology developer working with batteries, power electronics or range extenders, could conceivably become part of this system.

    The solution to this issue will be multi-industry and the Productiv team will keep ahead of the issues facing all stakeholders to ensure that our technology developer partners are well placed to take advantage of this emerging market.

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 25 Apr
    Connected and autonomous vehicles – not just for car drivers!

    Connected and autonomous vehicles – not just for car drivers!

    Think connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are only relevant to car drivers? Think again! They are set to completely transform millions of lives – and you need never have clapped your hands on a steering wheel.

    Productiv recently attended the second ever Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Connected conference, which brought together more than 400 cross-industry delegates.

    The focus of the event was connected and autonomous technology, which is set to revolutionise the automotive industry over the next few years.

    The significance of it was highlighted by Business Secretary Greg Clark’s announcement at the conference of the first phase of £100m of investment in CAV testing infrastructure, which will be used to support projects including public test facilities.

    Hand in hand with Mr Clark’s announcement was the launch of a new SMMT report, ‘Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Revolutionizing Mobility in Society’.

    If you don’t drive a car there’s a good chance any discussion of CAVs may have passed you by up until now, or you might have dismissed it as something that’s not relevant to you.

    But with an estimated global value of $10tn, it may become difficult to ignore them for long – especially when you hear that the automotive industry actually only accounts for one fifth of the market for the technology!

    The new SMMT report explores how CAVs could radically transform millions of lives – and not just for car drivers. If you fall into any of the following categories (and presumably we’re all in number four!), then you might want to watch this space!

    • Pedestrians: fewer accidents involving pedestrians and the elimination of the human error that can put pedestrians at risk
    • Old/young/people less able to walk: independent access to mobility that was not available previously.
    • Injured and unable to drive: autonomy allows you to continue living your life. Or just to get to the hospital
    • Anyone who would like to breathe clean air: more efficient use of vehicles and fewer toxic emissions


    Click here to read the ‘Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Revolutionising Mobility in Society report


    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized
  • 11 Apr
    Productiv partner in winning consortium for APC support to build UK battery manufacturing facility

    Productiv partner in winning consortium for APC support to build UK battery manufacturing facility

    Productiv is part of a consortium that has just won an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) competition to build a high performance, low volume, flexible battery manufacturing facility in the UK.

    Led by Williams Advanced Engineering, the project will help overcome existing supply chain gaps in the automotive industry, as well as offering support to UK chemistry development and bridging the gap between low volume prototype build and electric vehicle production.

    Working alongside Productiv, Unipart Group, Coventry University, WMG, MCT ReMan and The National Composites Centre; Williams’ initiative will also promote battery system development and create more commercial opportunities for this technology in the UK.

    The all-electric Aston Martin RapideE (pictured), which Williams Advanced Engineering helped develop the technology for, could be the site’s halo product when it goes into production by the end of the decade.

    Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Williams Advanced Engineering managing director, Craig Wilson, commented: “We’re delighted to have won the APC6 competition and associated funding along with our consortium partners, whom we are looking forward to working with to deliver this exciting project. We truly believe we can make a difference to the UK’s manufacturing capabilities and offer a significant contribution to the future of the automotive industry and energy storage in general.

    “We have always endeavoured to work collaboratively with our customers to meet their sustainability challenges and find energy efficient solutions. This project will build on the extensive battery experience and know-how we have accumulated over the past ten years, and is a big step in the right direction to further the UK’s battery manufacturing capabilities, supporting future electric vehicle requirements.”

    The APC, which was created in a unique partnership between industry and government, provides funding to projects as part of its services to enable development of low carbon propulsion systems. Funding is allocated to projects based on the outcome of bi-annual competitions, which require applications from consortia with a clear demonstrable route to production including at least one SME, one supplier and a vehicle manufacturer.

    APC director of technology and projects, Jon Beasley, added: “Williams Advanced Engineering and supporting partners have won an APC6 competition to develop bespoke, high performance and cost-competitive batteries for low to medium volume applications. This project will focus on flexible manufacturing, design for manufacture, UK supply chain development, recycling and reuse and save over one million tonnes of CO2.

    “Through a partnership of companies, the project will further develop and make available battery systems in order to overcome significant supply chain gaps in the UK and be able to offer support to UK companies researching and developing cell chemistry, and opportunity for acceleration to commercialisation.”

    By Anand Lakhani Uncategorized