COP26 and the manufacturing supply chain

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2 & 3 November 2022 | NEC, Birmingham

COP26 and the manufacturing supply chain

Jeremy Whittingham

It is surely significant that next week’s Advanced Engineering overlaps with the UN’s Cop 26 meeting. Although not a deliberate act of scheduling, the underlying driver behind both events is becoming increasingly similar.

So, what do we think are the most immediate advanced engineering and manufacturing challenges required to meet these much-vaunted targets and how will they be achieved? As we saw with COVID and the development of a vaccine, solutions tend to come from the ground up, especially when speed is of the essence. That said, government supported bodies are important incubators that encourage the climate for this kind of innovation through the collaboration of the UK’s world class R&D capability, industry and tech start-ups: think Innovate UK, and Knowledge Transfer Network among many others.

Take the lowering of carbon emissions from road transport, a vital element in the infrastructure of any economy. As we know there is great technology being developed and coming into use on the end-user side with many expectations put onto the development and implementation of EV.

But in the UK, that demand must be met by a step change in our battery manufacture and supply chain capacity, which will not only be necessary to meet demand from our vital auto manufacturing sector but will help reduce cost and ultimately the retail price for EV options, a major factor in the rate of take up. Experts agree that battery pack costs are instrumental in achieving the latter, and that there could be overall vehicle price parity with ICE (internal combustion engine) by around 2025. It is here that government initiatives like the Faraday Challenge are creating the landscape for the realization of higher volume lower cost battery production within the UK. I would say this could be the single most important next step for the automotive sector. Do you agree?

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