Minister highlights importance of Formula E to UK trade

Published: 3 July 2015

With around 60,000 people having spent the weekend in Battersea Park enjoying the spectacle of London’s first ever Formula E races, the Government’s UK Trade and Investment body (UKTI) has given the event a ringing endorsement and highlighted its importance to British business and the development of low carbon technologies.

  

UKTI works with British businesses to ensure their success in international markets through exports. It also encourages and support overseas companies to look at the UK as the best place to set up or expand their business. 

Government ministers and leaders from the automotive industry met on Friday, ahead of the weekend’s races, to discuss the best ways of moving Formula E’s pioneering electric vehicle technology “from the race track to the road”.

The UK is a world leader in the development of low carbon technologies, home to more F1 teams than any other country and a major player in the development of the pioneering technologies that have made the Formula E race series possible.

Friday’s special UKTI event highlighted the Government’s commitment to working with the UK’s motorsport industry to further develop technology in the automotive sector.

As well as hearing from leading industry figures, motorsports suppliers met with the wider automotive community. Suppliers discussed how Formula E technology can assist in the development of road-going electric cars.

Speaking at the event, Lord Maude, Minister of State for Trade and Investment said: “Formula E has vital implications far beyond the motorsport industry. It is a locus of R&D around electric cars; offers an important opportunity to promote and generate interest around these cars; and promotes clean energy and sustainability.

Already we are seeing Formula E teams working on ‘race to road’ programmes here in the UK.”

These programmes are producing tangible results. UKTI highlighted the fact that 500 London buses are being fitted with an energy recovery system conceived by Williams Formula One and manufactured by UK engineering company GKN.

This enables buses to improve their fuel economy and lower their CO2 emissions by over 20 per cent, reducing their impact on air quality in the capital. This innovative system, pioneered by a British based racing company will soon go into full-scale production.

The UK is now Europe’s biggest market for low carbon cars. It accounted for 20 per cent of all Electric Vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales in 2014. With 25 per cent of European EV sales, the UK-made Nissan Leaf is a market leader.

Programmes such as the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) will build on the UK’s world leading capability by helping to finance the development of low carbon products to enter production. The APC is a joint government-industry initiative worth over £1 billion.

Community services spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “We always knew that staging Formula E in the park would help local businesses and give London’s hugely important tourism sector a major boost.

“But this UKTI event showed just what a massive and positive contribution it can make to British business, jobs and economic growth, as well as the globally important technological advances it is already beginning to achieve in reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality.

“The organisers behind Formula E are at the cutting edge of electric vehicle technology. Today’s racing cars use the type of motors that could soon be fitted as standard in the next generation of electrically powered family saloons and hatchbacks.  

“We want to support advances in this important eco-technology and give our backing to the hugely valuable British motor racing industry which generates thousands of jobs in the UK’s engineering sector.”