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Zero-emission projects score £20m government investment

Projects to increase vehicle range, support charging in rural areas and help second-hand buyers of EVs have secured government investment.

The latest R&D funding is intended to unlock some of the biggest barriers to EV ownership

The initiatives are some of the winners of a £20m research and development competition held by the Department for Transport, which has also launched a competition to find an iconic British design for public charge points.

The latest R&D funding is intended to unlock some of the biggest barriers to EV ownership and has been awarded to 62 electric vehicle technology innovations.

Winning projects include an onboard plug-in device that provides drivers with data on battery health to improve the experience of buying second-hand EVs.

Another new development is a kinetic battery that will provide a temporary power boost for charging the next generation of ultra-fast EVs at peak times in rural areas.

Further winners include a zero-emission ambulance with a hydrogen range-extender designed from the ground up – and a solar-powered refrigeration unit for small commercial vehicles.

Meanwhile, the DfT’s project to find an iconic British design for public charge points could see them become as recognisable as a red post box or a black cab. The resulting design is set to be unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this November.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Ahead of major climate summit COP26 this year, investment in exciting projects such as these is key to making the switch to electric vehicles more attractive for drivers than ever before.

“Not only will they propel us further towards our net zero ambitions, they will also help harness some of the brightest talent in the UK tech industry, encouraging businesses to become global leaders in EV innovation and creating jobs as we build back better.”

Previous research and development funding from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has supported the UK’s first solar electric forecourt in Braintree, Essexwinner of the Innovation in Technology title at this year’s Fleet World Great British Fleet Awards.

A separate project is trialling vehicle-to-grid technology, enabling EVs to store and sell energy back to the grid during increased levels of demand. The owners of the 320 EVs involved in the trial saved an average of £420 on their annual electricity bills.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.