A CONSORTIUM including industry and academia, led by Caerphilly-based advanced research and development firm Deregallera, is set to begin work on an alternative motor for electric vehicles that’s less harmful to the global environment, thanks to support from the £1.8 million Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has confirmed.

Electric motors have been in use for decades. Of the many different motor types, permanent magnet motors offer the best performance. However, nearly 85% of the world’s reserves of the special materials needed for permanent magnets come from China.

In addition to the geo-political issues that result from relying on one country for natural resources, current practices mean this finite resource is being depleted, which results in worrying environmental issues, including concerns about the long-term sustainability of distributing “rare earth” material around the globe.

Thanks to funding from the Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund, one of the first projects to be supported will see Caerphilly-based Deregallera lead a project that will involve them working with Cwmbran-based firm Meritor and academics at Cardiff University to design, develop and test a new low-carbon electric vehicle motor which uses fewer “rare earth” materials, making them cheaper and minimising environmental and climate impacts.

The Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund will open for a second round of applications on Monday 1 August 2022.

The Deregallera project, which could have significant positive impacts on the environment, will help deliver the Welsh Government’s ambitious net zero commitments.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“The Welsh Government is committed to building the new industries of the future here in Wales. These are the businesses that will create the new green jobs we need to secure a sustainable and prosperous Welsh economy.

The record-high temperatures we experienced earlier this week is a clear demonstration that climate change is a threat to society. That’s why the Welsh Government has declared a climate emergency.

As part of the action we’re taking, we’re committed to decarbonising our society, including developing transport systems that do not harm the environment. We need more electric cars, buses, and cleaner trucks on our roads. As a globally responsible nation, we also want to look after nature and make sure we do not squander finite global resources like “rare earth” materials.

As part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to innovation, we want to see Welsh companies and academics come together to find innovative made-in-Wales solutions to global problems. So, I am delighted we have been able to fund this exciting new project, which delivers on that ambition.

I am excited by the potential of this project to deliver an alternative vehicle motor that is sustainable. This could deliver significant benefits to our economy and our society. I am confident this will lead to the creation of new innovative, all-Welsh supply chains that will help power our economy long into the future.”

Martin Boughtwood, Managing Director of Deregallera added:

“Support from the Ford Fund will enable us to continue to work with electric powertrain experts at the Cwmbran-based firm Meritor and Cardiff University to design and test a new motor which uses less “rare earth” material than conventional motors, making them cheaper and minimising environmental and climate impacts.”

A spokesperson from the Ford Motor company said:

“This is exactly the sort of innovative technical collaboration we wanted our legacy fund to support. The Fund will provide a kick-start to two other low carbon vehicle projects in Wales, and we can’t wait to see what the next round of funding will bring”.

 

By Gwynoro Jones

Former MP for Carmarthenshire, Gwynoro Jones joined the team covering politics in Wales. He has a wealth of experience in politics and has been a regular commentator on radio, TV and in newspapers in Wales. Email: gwynorojones@walesnewsonline.com

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