The UK is world leader in the development of Power Electronics but beyond concept, the manufacturing usually happens outside the UK. In 2019, the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult brought together a consortium of 13 industrial and academic partners including drawing on expertise from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to develop a complete UK supply chain to produce the electric power train for McLaren sports cars in a project called ESCAPE. This £20m project will accelerate the transition from internal combustion engines to clean electric propulsion, establishing resilient UK supply chains for power train components.
As a result of the success with ESCAPE, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult was chosen to convene an industrial scale-up project involving BMW called FUTURE-BEV. This £30m project will produce electric power train technology at scale. Building on the success of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Faraday Battery Challenge programme which supports the development of new battery technologies, FUTURE-BEV uses advances in Silicon Carbide (SiC) technology in ensuring maximum efficiency and compact size of the power converter that will transform the UK’s automotive industry to use clean energy.
In addition, Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult was chosen to host one of four scale-up centres for ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’, as part of a £23m UK-wide capital investment to scale-up production capacity to meet future demand.
These projects, along with other contributory activities, form a programme of significant size, positioning the UK automotive industry at the forefront of clean electric propulsion. Whilst the programme is only just underway, it is anticipated to deliver considerable impact over 3-5 years, adding over 230 jobs and over £130m of additional investment in the UK.