As Jaguar Land Rover exhibits its greenest Land Rover ever – the Range_e – at the Geneva Motor Show, Pete Richings, chief engineer for Hybrid Technology and Martin Dowson, manager of Advanced Hybrid Technology, talk to Louise Bateman about the partnership projects that are enabling major advancements in UK green automotive technology.
Q. Jaguar Land Rover is working with manufacturers in the supply chain and universities to develop low carbon technologies for a range of vehicles, including the Rang_e, which you’re exhibiting at the Geneva Motor Show. How is the car going down?
A. It is unusual for us to exhibit a technology project at a motor show, but it is proving to be a really good way to demonstrate to the public the research and development
we are carrying out at Jaguar Land Rover. We’ve had a really positive response from an awful lot of people – members of the public and the press. Q. The Range_e is part of the CABLED project, a Birmingham-based demonstrator programme part funded by Technology Strategy Board. Is this sort of partnership project new to the company and why is the company working in this way?
A. The Technology Strategy Board wants to promote a UK supply base and knowledge base, so to be successful when you apply for a new project you have to put a package together that doesn’t benefit just one business – the more suppliers the better.
The UK has been very good at innovation
, but it doesn’t have a global tier one supply base. The Technology Strategy Board and other Government organisations are using these research projects to try and develop one.
We’ve always done research into new technology, but this approach is more collaborative. Everyone has to bring something to the party. It enables us to take things a stage further and do it more quickly.
Particularly during the recession this kind of project has been very helpful.Q. What are these projects?
A. Limo-Green is one that has just finished, which is based on the XJ saloon launched in 2010 and features an all-new range extender power train.
We also completed one last year called REHEV, a plug-in hybrid research project. The Range_e, in effect, is a fleet trial version of REHEV. The information we learnt from REHEV fed into Range_e, which will test it out on the road
. We will feed that information back into the production vehicle.
FHSPV is a flywheel hybrid project which began two and half years ago and is nearing completion.
And we are also working on REEVolution, the biggest single Technology Strategy Board automotive project. Q. How are they being funded?
A. It is bottom line cash. You can’t bring intellectual property to the table alone. Its head count or materials or both.Q. What are the benefits for a company such as Jaguar Land Rover of working in this way?
A. You get a different perspective [from companies from different sectors] and we have developed relationships that we wouldn't have otherwise. E.ON, for example, is a partner in one of the projects and we are getting a different view from their perspective.
It’s opening up relationships in the supply base, too, with smaller potential suppliers. An example of this would be the flywheel project, which is a piece of technology that is completely innovative but we probably wouldn’t have looked at it had we not been involved in this partnership project. Its enabled Flybrid Systems to develop the project and the company may become a supplier to us in the future. Q. What have been the main challenges of working with other companies and organisations in this way?
A. Agreeing with partners at the start of the process is one of the tricky areas and it does keep our legal team employed. The devil is always in the detail and if all the parties are not honest up front, then you will get into problems.
It does mean you have to be bit more open with some people who are potential competitors. That is one of the issues. Q. What are the specific challenges of working with SMEs?
come up with the bright innovative ideas, but don’t always understand the depth of engineering required to supply big manufacturing, such as component testing and sign-offs. They may have supplied a few parts of a Formula One car, but it's very different to supplying a thousand a week on a schedule.
Their appetite is to go from start-up to major multi-pound supplier, but we try and encourage partnerships with a bigger manufacturer and licensing. Q. One of the stated objectives of these partnerships is to help grow the supply chain and enable smaller companies to get a bigger slice of the market? How successful have you been in achieving that?
It’s too early to say. Some of these technologies are on two or three year development phases.
The sort of timescale we are talking about are another four years before the products fully come to fruition. But there are positive signs along the way and [this week] we announced 2500 new jobs being created at Jaguar Land Rover this year and 1000 jobs will be within our product development and another 1500 at our plant in Merseyside.Like this? Please subscribe to our free weekly e-newsletter at the top of the page for more content like this.Related content:Green innovationRelated links:www.landrover.com