A Personal Insight Into Electric Vehicles in the UK – Paul Tugwell

I am extremely honoured to have recently travelled to the United Kingdom (UK) to meet with Dr Richard Burke, FIMechE from Bath University, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre.

Dr Burke is a Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering specialising in Automotive Propulsion Systems.  He was appointed Prize Fellow in Automotive Powertrain Systems in 2012 and is focused on the characterisation of these systems under dynamic operating conditions. He has strong links with industrial and academic organisations throughout Europe and is a track chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Internal Combustion Division for Powertrain Testing and Control.

Being a Mechanical Engineer, Dr Burke gave a balanced view into how the automotive industry is going with electric power sources. I particularly like his idea on smart charging vehicles which would allow for fully charged vehicles to be able to charge other vehicles that are connected to the smart charging system.

I also learnt about the Institute for Advance Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), being built just outside Bristol. This facility will become a research centre to support the delivery of advanced power sources for cleaner and more efficient vehicles and in time, will see a battery research centre built adjacent.

I was fortunate enough to also meet Dr Simon Pickering and Dr Andy Lewis (Research Fellows, Department of Mechanical Engineering) who took me to see their research facility where they are using a dynamometer to test for emissions and investigate pollutants using internal combustion engines and looking at heat transfer in diesel engines.

Most interestingly, I attended a lecture held by Chris Vague who is currently working with the Formula E racing team for Renault. These vehicles have 600 Volts, 28kW/h, 0-100km/h in 3 seconds, top speed of 225km/h, and a range of 25 minutes under race conditions. Chris is a qualified Mechanical Engineer but has seen the light and his passion now is electric vehicles.

Following on with the racing theme, I next visited the Bath University Electric Racing Team who are the most successful student racing team in the UK. Part of their project sees mechanical and electrical engineering students build an electric race car from scratch. They go on to compete in the Formula Student, a competition which sees over 600 universities taking part. Bath University is number one in the UK and number 17 in Europe.

From the first day I was reassured that in the next decade we will see large growth in electric vehicle sales and a big reduction in pollution. Technology will continue to improve, and we already have most electric vehicles doing at least 300km on a charge.

I would like to thank Dr Richard Burke and all the other leading experts I had the privilege to meet and hear from .

Paul Tugwell | HEV Trainer | MTA Institute

3 Jul 2019