CPT’s new technical centre in Coventry will help keep the UK in the forefront of low carbon vehicle developments
The official opening by the environmental award-winning company Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) of its new engineering technical centre in the West Midlands, which complements its technical facilities at Laindon in Essex and subsidiaries in Germany and the USA, will further help the UK automotive industry develop safe and affordable low voltage hybrid vehicles says Professor Richard Folkson president-elect of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) who was invited to the Coventry inauguration as principal guest speaker.
“Powertrain electrification will play a major role in advancing automotive technology,” said Folkson, a leading expert in low carbon vehicles and an assessor for the UK’s innovation agency InnovateUK. “The opening of these new facilities will help keep the UK at the forefront of new developments in low carbon vehicle powertrains.”
“The UK is well placed as a centre of excellence for powertrain design and manufacture with major engine facilities operated by Bentley, BMW Mini, Caterpillar, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, JCB, Perkins, Toyota and many other international vehicle manufacturers. This part of the motor industry is vital to the continuing reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from road transport vehicles.”
Professor Folkson and other guests attending the opening, including customers and suppliers, were welcomed by CPT’s chairman Ali Naini who commented on the company’s achievements over the past eight years since the idea of Controlled Power Technologies was first conceived.
“Over the past eight years, we’ve managed to complete the spin out of the company from Visteon, put together an amazing and very capable team, complete the fundraisings that we have needed to do year after year, prepare our VTES electric supercharger to a position of being ready for commercialisation and find a good home for it through the trade sale to Valeo, do the same with SpeedStart so that it too is ready for commercialisation for which we are talking to a number of potential manufacturing partners, and we have continued to develop the Cobra and Tigers products so that we now have a much better sense of the commercial opportunities they offer.”
“With these achievements our expectations have grown even higher,” said Naini. “As a clean-tech financier I work with many clean-tech companies. CPT is unusual in that it combines the agility and entrepreneurialism of an SME with the capability and technical prowess of a much larger company. And I think that is one of the key reasons that has persuaded our investors to back the company to the extent they have.”
Two days before opening CPT’s new technical centre, Ali Naini and operations director Pat Salter had presented the company’s powertrain electrification technology at the Houses of Parliament, being one of only eight companies invited to showcase innovations in UK road transport
“Ministers and Members of Parliament recognise that UK innovation in low carbon road transport is leading edge and world beating and that’s why the UK government together with industry is investing £1 billion over the next 10 years to ensure that it can consolidate its position as the global centre of excellence for advanced propulsion systems,” said Naini. “CPT’s ambitions have similarly matured, so we need to further grow our capabilities, we need to grow our team, and we need to grow our facilities and this is why we are here today. I very much hope that all people who are working at our new technical centre will find it a pleasant and stimulating environment and that it helps us achieve our ambitions.”
The larger facilities at Rowley House meant that for the first time CPT was able to gather all 50 employees together in the West Midlands, when normally they would all head south to its headquarters in Essex for the annual corporate briefing. Company co-founder and chief executive Nick Pascoe commented further on the expansion of the Midland facilities.
“We’re delighted we’ve now got a facility big enough to take everyone,” said Pascoe. “When in 2006 Ali and I drafted our business plan, we realised that it would be desirable to have a handful of engineers based in the Midlands in addition to those employed in Essex. We soon realised after two or three years that just 10 employees in Coventry would not be enough, so we went to 15 and that seemed a bold move at the time. And then last year we hit 20 in the West Midlands and needed more space with the right combination of workshop and offices.”
“During our first eight years as a business we’ve seen a lot of change,” said Pascoe. “When we first drew up our business plan we knew that CO2 legislation was coming and that was indeed implemented. We saw the first stop-start systems being launched and we’ve seen a lot of evolution of stop-start and it’s now become commonplace. And most recently we’ve seen hybridisation being redefined, which really plays to the strengths of CPT and its expertise in intelligent low voltage electrification of the powertrain.”
“We’re continuing to recruit from across Europe and beyond and we are really doing what the whole of British industry is having to do,” said Pascoe. “But it shows how strong the automotive sector is and we are very proud of what we’ve achieved as a business during the last eight years. As everyone in the company knows the mission isn’t over yet, we still have a lot left to do, but we are relishing the challenge.”
To wrap up the formal proceedings, Pascoe invited Prof Folkson to say a few words to officially inaugurate CPT’s new engineering technical centre.
“It’s no secret that the UK government is trying to position us as leaders in low carbon transportation,” said Folkson. “I’m really impressed by what they’re doing, with what was the Technology Strategy Board and is now InnovateUK, to support new technology projects of which we heard about this morning.”
“I’ve got some fairly strong views on low carbon vehicles,” said Folkson. “I don’t think that the future is pure battery electrics. They’ll play a role, but I can’t see that we’re all going to be driving around in pure electric vehicles in the near future simply because they’re far too expensive and they’ve got range limitations, but we are going to see a lot more electrification of the powertrain. And that’s what CPT’s business is all about.”
“I think internal combustion engines are going to be around for another 30 to 40 years, maybe downsized and in a different format, in smaller and lighter packages, to go with these electrified powertrain. But that’s the way forward; to get more out of the fossil fuels and give us the range and performance that everyone expects.”
“So I’m really pleased that Nick has asked me here to open the new CPT engineering centre, because I think they’re absolutely on track with where the automotive industry goes and to help position the UK to be in a strong leadership position.”
CPT’s new technical centre in Coventry was officially opened on Wednesday 11 March 2015.
About Richard Folkson
Richard Folkson joined as a student member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) at age 16. As a Fellow of the Institution he has served as chairman of the Automobile Division (2008-09), chairman of the Eastern Region (2010-12), and has been chief judge for the world-renowned Formula Student competition since 2010.
As a consultant advising on how future vehicle designs can reduce usage of fossil fuels, Richard initiated and leads the organisation of the Institution’s Sustainable Vehicle Technology Conference, and has organised seminar events on light-weighting for low carbon and electric vehicles.
Richard worked previously in product development at Ford Motor Company for 30 years on all aspects of car and truck design, rising to the position of chief engineer. During this period he served as chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Engineering Committee with regular contact with government departments at a senior level.
Richard gained his BSc in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London.
About 48V mild hybrid vehicles
Working closely with many international automotive companies, CPT has been in the vanguard of hybrid vehicle innovations since its formation in 2007, and was one of the first in the automotive industry to spot the opportunity for low voltage electrification of the powertrain.
Because of its background, which can be traced back to Ford in 2000 and then Visteon, CPT was among the first to develop practical technical solutions when in 2011 five German carmakers – Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and VW – announced that they would instigate a 48V standard for their vehicles’ on-board power networks.
CPT built one of the world’s first 48V hybrid demonstrators, developed under the European Advanced Lead-Acid battery Consortium (EALABC)’s LC Super Hybrid programme, together with its 12V sibling fitted with otherwise identical motor generator technology demonstrating best-in-class stop-start capability, for a series of ride-and-drive evaluations by leading car makers.
“The ease of manufacture and affordability of 48V mild hybrids, combined with their efficient use of gasoline and diesel fuels, is what makes them particularly attractive to a wide range of vehicles produced by car, bus and commercial vehicle manufacturers,” says Pascoe. “The universal application of this technology to the 100 million vehicles our global industry will soon produce each year, 98 per cent of them with highly advanced gasoline and diesel engines, would in the short term reduce annual global CO2 emissions by 100 million tonnes. The technology is relatively easy to produce, which gives the industry the time it needs to develop lower cost pure electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.”
About Controlled Power Technologies
CPT is an independent, clean-tech, company based at Laindon in Essex and in Coventry in the West Midlands with subsidiaries in Germany and the USA. It specialises in the development of cost-effective CO2 reduction measures for the global automotive industry that avoid major redesign of the powertrain or vehicle electrical system. Its core competencies include low voltage power electronics, advanced control software and the application of low voltage switched-reluctance electrical machines to gasoline and diesel powertrains.
The business was established in 2007 to acquire Visteon’s advanced powertrain business. With asset and technology acquisitions from Visteon, and the signing of associated licensing and collaboration agreements with Switched Reluctance Drives Limited, now part of Nidec Corporation, CPT gained immediate access to a portfolio of near-term solutions to the problem of automotive CO2 and NOx reduction – and has since developed the technology to a high level of application and manufacturing readiness.
Following the successful £30 million sale of its VTES electric supercharger business to Valeo for applications in cars and vans up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, CPT is now focused on bringing its liquid-cooled COBRA, SpeedStart and TIGERS technology to mass market readiness.
Today, CPT retains an experienced team of high calibre automotive engineers, all with shares in the company, and is backed by a number of prominent investors specialising in the energy and environmental sectors including Conduit Ventures, Entrepreneurs Fund, Low Carbon Innovation Fund, Mowinckel Management, National Technology Enterprises Company, Reformer Group, Target Ventures, and Turquoise Capital (whose director Ali Naini serves as chairman of the CPT board).