Low Carbon Vehicles
Slide 1
Thank you for your kind welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here in Kuala Lumpur.
It’s certainly a change from a grey English summer!
I wanted to talk today about Low Carbon vehicles because it’s a subject close to
my heart, and one vital to the future of the Malay – and the world- automotive
Slide 2
As the founder of Warwick Manufacturing Group, I’ve worked in the automotive
sector for over thirty years, and in the process we’ve built WMG from a single
small office to a partner to some of the major innovators in global manufacturing,
with research that ranges from paint shops to cryptography, from developing
virtual worlds to building green racing cars.
In every area, we focus on research with a clear impact, because we believe that
as products –and processes – become more complex, and as consumers
increase their demands, the need for outstanding R&D becomes ever greater.
We work in partnership with over 500 businesses, because if you’re an engineer,
you don’t get to make a difference unless you’re working on problems outside the
Since I founded WMG, manufacturing has changed beyond recognition.
The line between making and servicing has blurred.
The line between product and process has blurred.
If you’re selling an airliner today – are you selling a plane, a service agreement,
or both?
So we’ve changed too. Our newest building is a Digital Lab, working on issues
from healthcare to real Virtuality.
Our next building, the Institute for Product and Service Innovation, will focus on
the links between innovative products and innovative services.
I mention this because the case I will make today is that we must look far beyond
merely technical solutions if we are to make low carbon vehicles a success.
Instead, we need innovative low carbon research that puts the consumer first –
and that means looking at everything from tyres to how people drive when they’re
We sometimes make the mistake, when talking about Low carbon, of discussing
technologies based solely on their emissions levels, when we should always be
thinking about how we can make low carbon vehicles an attractive offer to
consumers. That is the measure of success.
There’s no point building a zero emission engine if it doesn’t do what consumers
need it to do.
Last year more than half a million passenger vehicles were sold in Malaysia.
Our challenge is to make low carbon vehicles attractive to those half a million
buyers, and to the half million eager customer who will buy as the economy
Slide Three
I don’t want to say too much about why low carbon is a pressure for the
automotive sector.
The science is clear, but even if you dispute the theory, it makes little difference.
When you see temperature rises of the sort we see in this graph, a political and
regulatory approach to tackle the problem is inevitable.
But within that regulatory approach, the auto industry is likely to be the only one
trying to stick up for the individual interests of the consumer.
Slide Four
So what is the nature of the challenge?
Technically, it’s clear.
The EU is setting a car fleet target of 130 grams of CO2 by 2015, likely falling to
95 grams in 2020.
Both China and India are already on standards similar to the Euro emissions
path, with Beijing already imposing Euro V standards from next year, these are
likely to be become the benchmark for much of the rest of the world.
The USA –more imperial in measurement and more flexible on standards – will
demand 250g of CO2 per mile by the 2016 car season.
At the same time, we will see a major increase in vehicle consumption in many
major markets, with overall Carbon demand increasing too.
It would be hypocritical and ludicrous for countries that already have high vehicle
usage rates to seek to prevent others from having the same freedoms.
This means there will be a whole series of challenges.
We will need to design vehicles that meet consumer needs in markets that
currently saturated with internal combustion engine products.
At the same time, we will need to develop products that meet the same
consumer needs in markets where ICE are known and liked, but not yet
saturated. It may be that these markets display more consumer flexibility in new
driving experiences and styles.
We will also be doing so in situations of very different infrastructure issues.
A country making major infrastructure investment now will find it easier to
integrate charging points for electric vehicles in their grid assumptions, for
But despite all this varieties of market pressure, consumer need and price
requirements, policy makers tend to get fixated on electric vehicles and fuel cells.
My own theory about this is that Electric vehicles are easy to talk about as a “big
answer”, and seem easy to offer as a simple solution.
We should remember though, that the technology behind Electric vehicles isn’t
The pictures you see here are Thomas Edison and Ferdinand Porsche
demonstrating early electric and hybrid vehicles.
Even in 1900 the technology was sound, but ultimately, consumers rejected
The reasons that applied then, apply now, in modified form.
Batteries were bulky and heavy. They were expensive. They required a charging
infrastructure. They needed to charge overnight, every night and if you forget, the
results are a lot worse than having to find a phone charger!
Slide six
Finally, they have limited range. This leads to what we call “range anxiety”.
Knowing that your car is going to run out of juice, but you can’t just stop at a
petrol station and fill her up in five minutes.
This chart shows the difference in range between diesel and petrol cars and
current pure battery technology.
It’s pretty striking.
What’s more this technology is still expensive.
How many Malaysian consumers are likely to accept an up front cost of an extra
$5,000 US for a hybrid? What about even more for an EV?
It’s for these sort of reasons that Ralph Speth, Chief Executive at Jaguar
Landrover, suggests that by “2030, three out of four cars will still have an
additional combustion engine in some form of hybrid.”
So even though we might hope for a major technology breakthrough from battery
or fuel cell technology, it would be extremely unwise to bet everything on it.
Slide seven
We shouldn’t rely on one technology to be the answer.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve what we set out to do.
I have a huge faith in the power of innovation.
We know what we need is challenging, so we need to innovate in every area of
the current automotive industry to hit those challenges.
Looked at this way, the Low carbon Challenge becomes an exhilarating test of an
engineer’s problem solving ability.
To get the whole industry innovation we need, we have to increase our
investment in R&D, both Government and private.
We have to increase the skill base of the engineering sector, which means more
intensive industry-academic links, and we have to build partnerships, both along
the supply chain, and among OEMs.
Slide Eight
Most of all we have to fight this battle on the broadest of fronts.
You can see here a matrix of some of the areas we need to research.
It is nowhere near exhaustive, but it ranges from low rolling resistance tires to
artificial intelligence in vehicle management systems.
If we research every area, the result of hundreds of incremental improvements
may well be as important as any hoped for technology breakthrough.
Slide Nine
That said - the most obvious area to look at is propulsion.
There is a fairly clear technology map, ranging from optimising internal
combustion engines right up to developing Fuel Cells, which have been, as one
of my researchers says “ten years away for the last fifteen years”.
But none of these different options are mutually exclusive. If we put consumers
first, we’ll know that different systems will perform better for different needs.
A recent McKinsey report echoed this view. It said:
“Over the next 40 years, no single powertrain satisfies all key criteria for
economics, performance and the environment.
The world is therefore likely to move from a single power-train – the internal
combustion engine - to a portfolio of power-trains in which Battery Electric
Vehicles and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles play a complementary role”
Slide ten
You can see here how complex the interplay between different propulsions
systems is, and how great the overlap between them is likely to be.
So one of the most important things we need to do is understand how different
powertrains perform in real world conditions.
That’s why At WMG, we have set up the Vehicle Energy Facility for just that
Our equipment, including two dynamometers, a battery cycler and our own
WARPSTAR modelling system, will allow researchers to understand how
propulsion systems perform in a wide variety of conditions and pressures,
helping develop low carbon vehicles suited to the needs of many different
consumer sectors.
Slide Eleven
Just as the main propulsion system will vary, we will need to consider how we
recover waste energy.
If we want to make Electric vehicles work effectively or to reduce the impact of
petrol and diesel engines, then recovering wasted energy will be essential.
There are over twenty Range Extended electric vehicles in development at the
moment, so we at WMG are looking at how you model and optimise a base
engine when it is combined with an auxiliary power unit.
This focus on identifying alternative energy storage routes is not an alternative to
Battery technology; it is a complement to it. It makes Battery technology more
attractive as a consumer option.
Slide Twelve
Nor should we forget that a vehicle’s footprint is in large part a result of the
materials it is constructed from and the energy intense processes used in its
That’s why I’m passionate about vehicle light-weighting. It’s an obvious gain for
the manufacturer – lower steel costs, simpler construction – and for the
consumer, who gets superior performance.
But yet again, light weighting will be rejected if the end result feels – well, light!
People demand a sense of security, of comforting solidity. So this too becomes
an engineering challenge.
How do you keep that consumer perception of solidity, while making the car ever
lighter? That is a challenge of materials, and also of understanding the consumer
You can also see here WMG’s Worldfirst F3, car. The first Formula three car built
solely of sustainable and renewable materials. The challenge here was to show
you could use materials like hemp and potato and still create something that
performed at a race car level.
Again, it’s the standards of the very best high-carbon vehicle we need to match.
Finally, we should remember that production energy has carbon footprint. I think
this is something manufacturers, who have to pay the bills, sometimes recognise
more that journalists and consumers.
Paint plants often account for over half of energy consumed in vehicle
We’re working on systems where injection mouldings are painted as they are
produced, using a system some people have called “exploding paint”. The result
is a car ready component which eliminates the need for many paint shops.
Slide 13
The ultimate test of any vehicle is how the consumer uses it.
People drive incredibly differently, and we’re only just beginning to understand
the consequences and implications of that. You can see here the huge variety of
speeds, accelerations and breaking points among drivers on a relatively simple
motorway section.
Some people keep their throttle position steady. Others like to accelerate and
brake frequently, others prefer a constant pace with little lane changes.
Slide 14
It doesn’t take much of a leap to work out that different ways of using a car will
mean different emissions levels. Even so, the scale is surprising, up to 87 per
cent emissions difference in an urban environment
On top of this, individual driving behaviour will impact acceptance of new
So we need to carefully understand how low carbon vehicles will perform, and
how different types of consumer will react to them.
As engineers, our hunger is to anticipate those differences, and design vehicles
to meet them.
So whether for those who want “steady pace” or “rapid acceleration/braking” we
can design the most effective low carbon system for them.
And we should remember that so many of the cues we appreciate about a
vehicle are experience based.
Sense, sound, touch and smell matter to consumers, so as engineers we must
understand how to make them work for low carbon vehicles, not against them.
Slide 15
If you’ve ever been in an electric vehicle, you’ve probably noticed the sound, or
rather, the lack of engine noise. There’s no noise while the car is idling. The tire
and wind sound is prominent.
For those used to petrol or diesel cars, it is disconcerting.
These are sound cues we associate with low quality, but we’re being asked to
pay extra for them. A lot extra.
In fact it’s worse than that.
Studies show that Electric vehicles are more prone to get into accidents when
slowing, reversing or parking. People just don’t hear them coming in the same
way they hear current cars.
That’s not only dangerous; it impacts consumer’s willingness to pay extra for an
electric vehicle!
So we’ve developed this fellow called ELVIN.
He can be programmed with different sound sets, which behave differently based
on speed, direction, and whether accelerating or braking.
The sounds created can be anything from a traditional V8 to a “Science fiction”
style sound effect.
After all, from films we all know what a space ship “sounds” like!
Slide 16
We can discover which sound designs make users most positive to their
vehicles, which create an impression of quality, of speed, of performance.
All of that means consumers are more likely to accept a low carbon vehicle as
meeting their expectations.
This is the sort of research which consumers really understand. When we let the
media listen to this, they couldn’t get enough!
It is, again proof that ultimately the consumer will decide whether they accept low
carbon vehicles. It’s not rocket science.
It is just as much our job to develop the technologies which increase acceptance
of Low carbon vehicles, as it is to develop low carbon propulsion systems.
Slide 17
Creating a truly low carbon vehicle is only the beginning of the engineering
challenge we face.
Electric vehicles and hybrids have been around for a hundred years or more.
The real challenge is developing Low carbon vehicles that consumers from
London to Kuala Lumpur are willing to hand over hard earned money to buy,
considering what they can get from existing vehicles.
Yes, making the worst performing vehicles prohibitively expensive will help, but
no government is going to take away the mass market for passenger vehicles, so
we have to compete with the best of what the internal combustion engine can
In the internal Combustion engine we have a technology which is popular around
the whole world.
A technology that has shaped the society we live in. Changed millions of lives.
Now we need to find a way of doing it even better.
To me, that’s one of the most exciting engineering challenges you can think of.
Since the global automotive market is huge and varied, the solutions and barriers
will be different from sector to sector and market to market.
Achieving our goals will require a huge research effort on propulsion, on
materials, on understanding consumers.
It will mean a focus not just on one technology, but on every element of
automotive design.
Since no one company, or institution, or supplier can hope to cover all this
ground, we need a series of partnerships, all joined in what President Obama
called an “ecology of innovation”.
I’m hungry for WMG to play a role in that ecology by building partnerships that
are long term, equal and based on shared vision.
We know what standards we must reach to create mass Low carbon vehicle
markets around the world.
We know that to reach them requires an examination of everything we do.
We know that we need to explore every path, every possible route forward.
Only together will we achieve that.
Thank You