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University of Bath

The Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems

Delivering future generations of clean and efficient vehicles.

An architect's design of the IAAPS facility
An architect's design of the IAAPS facility

The Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) is set to open in 2021 and will be a new research and innovation facility based at the Bristol and Bath Science Park. It will support global automotive industries to deliver future generations of advanced propulsion systems and ultra-low emission vehicles.

The state-of-the-art equipment and space will allow detailed systems-level research to be conducted including whole vehicle analysis under real-world driving conditions. The facility will be designed for the future, enabling deep insights into the complex nature of transitioning to Ultra Low Emission Vehicles. This will include the continued electrification of vehicles, as well as unique layouts and configurations of the propulsion system for driverless cars.

We are creating a facility which is open to all, supporting academics, automotive industry partners and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to a world-class research setup and people.

This will encourage greater collaboration and the sharing of expertise across the sector, as well as creating a space for transformational research. It is especially important that we support the exciting innovations of SMEs, as these high-growth, small businesses are vital to the UK economy.

The Government’s £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) investment in 2013 to deliver the ‘Propulsion Nation’ shows the intention to drive investment in UK automotive propulsion and IAAPS will support this in its purpose and activities.

Advancing automotive research and innovation

With a new vehicle rolling off the production line every 20 seconds and an export market that’s worth nearly £35 billion, the UK automotive industry is in a strong position. However, faced with external pressures it needs to increase its competitiveness and adapt to meet the challenges ahead.

IAAPS will help build the UK's propulsion capacity for the future with experimental facilities that can shift to meet and exceed environmental control targets, while not compromising performance. This will be a national facility capable of supporting the UK's agenda to attract more investment from overseas as well as ensuring there is a constant flow of highly capable and well-trained engineers through its graduate programmes.

The facility will foster a collaborative working environment between researchers and industry.

Global companies can locate anywhere but IAAPS will bring them to Britain and keep them here, putting the UK in the driving seat for creating a new breed of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.

Chassis Dynamometer Jaguar Photoshoot

Much more than a facility

The Institute will be truly unique, both in its structure and operation.

It will rise to the challenge of conducting research on complex propulsion systems to develop robust scientific insight into the performance and development of future low-carbon powertrain technologies and aid their delivery to market.

The facility will contain new technically-advanced facilities, including:

  • climatic control rolling roads to evaluate and optimise complete vehicle performance in real-world driving conditions
  • dynamometers to lead research around the complexity of hybrid powertrain optimisation
  • engine, transmission and electrical machine platforms designed as the cornerstone of transition to future Ultra Low Emission Vehicles

IAAPS is so much more than just a facility. It is being designed with people and business in mind. The open innovation approach is unique, promoting collaboration and enabling partners to work hand-in-hand on breakthrough technologies.

Internal atrium of new IAAPS facility

A reputation for delivery

Our research approach has always been to investigate the specific industrial challenges of the sector, and is the principle reason we’ve been so successful in advancing automotive research.

Through our powertrain technology research, we have a solid reputation for delivery of improving the efficiency and emissions of diesel and petrol engines, and electric and hybrid systems. We have a proven track record, having delivered over 15 Innovate UK and APC funded projects with a value in excess of £5 million. We have secured over £20m in research funding over the last seven years.

By aligning our work with the needs of our industrial partners, our researchers have delivered innovative solutions that tackle important challenges such as engine downsizing, improved fuel consumption and lower vehicle emissions. Our ‘Ultraboost’ Project delivered a prototype 2L gasoline engine with the same performance as a 5L V8 engine whilst also reducing in vehicle CO2 by more than 35 per cent.

In 2015 our longstanding and continued contribution to the development of the UK automotive industry was recognised when we were announced as one of the UK’s leading automotive propulsion groups, selected as the ‘Internal Combustion Engine – Systems Efficiency’ Spoke of the APC. This means we are formally recognised by Government and industry as a leader in advanced propulsion systems research.

McLaren car being tested in chassis dynamometer

The economic case

To help calculate the potential economic benefits of IAAPS, we asked Warwick Economics for an independent view. Their findings couldn’t be clearer; IAAPS will be a catalyst for sustainable economic growth.

Nationally, IAAPS will stimulate £67 million in research and development between 2020 and 2025, delivering an additional turnover of £800 million for the automotive sector and £221 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) for the national accounts.

They estimate IAAPS will support nearly 1,900 new jobs and safeguard thousands more, including many that may have gone outside of the UK. Through IAAPS we’ll see jobs that are more productive; something in the region of £50,000 per employee. Higher wages means a more prosperous regional economy.

The facility will attract millions of pounds of private sector investment from this country and abroad, and will develop the West of England’s advanced engineering industry where the region has a unique competitive advantage. It will exploit the past investments into the Bristol and Bath Science Park and the National Composite Centre.

IAAPS will also be a centre for world-class training and skills development by supporting new apprenticeships, undergraduate, masters and PhD courses. It will be the pinnacle of a skills system, providing pathways through local education providers and addressing skills gaps within the region.

Our facility will also offer a space for start-ups and future entrepreneurs to experiment, learn and deliver to the market.

Unveiling the commemorative plaque at IAAPS with Science Minister, Chris Skidmore MP.