Automotive research and development: grow your business in the UK

  • nationwide R&D Catapult centres
  • comprehensive infrastructure
  • leading innovation in low-emission and electric vehicles
1.2 billion GBP in government funding for automotive R&D
  • UK automotive R&D: at a glance

    The UK government and the UK automotive industry have set up a partnership called the Automotive Council, to chart the growing UK auto sector. This is now the international gold standard for government and industry cooperation, and has led to a huge expansion of both car manufacturing and automotive R&D in the UK.

    While the ability of our engineers to develop revolutionary solutions has never been in doubt, the major change over recent years is the establishment of a comprehensive infrastructure to take concepts from laboratory to production. The UK also hosts a number of R&D Catapult centres to support the development of new technologies from concept to production.

  • Funding for automotive R&D

    Low carbon propulsion

    The UK government and the UK car industry has agreed to jointly invest an unprecedented 1 billion GBP over 10 years developing low carbon propulsion systems. This is administered via the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). APC runs 2 competitions per year for companies seeking up to 50% funding for projects that will lead to a reduction in the carbon emissions of road vehicles.


    The UK has an unmatched track record in the development of lightweight materials, from the first carbon fibre used in Formula One by McLaren in 1981 to the current model range of Jaguar Land Rover, the world’s most aluminium-intensive car manufacturer.

    One of the most significant materials for the future of road cars is carbon fibre composites. This presents an opportunity to take the UK’s leading position in motorsport and aerospace and apply it to the emerging market for mass-produced carbon fibre for car production. This is being assisted by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a world-leading network of facilities where composites companies can take advantage of the latest test and development machinery.

    Connected and autonomous Vehicles (CAVs)

    The UK is a leader in the field of CAVs. The UK government has created a 200 million GBP fund administered by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV), which is jointly funded by the industry and the government. It offers grants through a competitive bidding process.

    We’re also establishing ourselves as a leading destination for CAV development, with the world’s most progressive regulatory regime.

  • Low-emission vehicles market

    The UK is the largest ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) market in the EU with over 110,000 ULEVs on the road.

    Grants for consumers to purchase ULEVs and improved charging infrastructure have caused this market growth. The UK government and automotive industry are funding a 1 billion GBP Advanced Propulsion Centre for later stage R&D projects around low carbon powertrain and production.

    The UK government is supporting the automotive industry to improve the effectiveness of electric vehicles, reduce their cost and to increase their range. It will invest 246 million GBP over 4 years in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for vehicle electrification.

    The UK already has the largest network of rapid charging points for electric vehicles in Europe, as part of a network of over 10,000 publicly accessible charge points.

  • UK government support

    The UK government is committed to the continued success of the UK car industry by providing over 1.2 billion GBP to automotive research funds. These cover low-carbon propulsion, lightweight materials and connected and autonomous vehicles.

    We’re also creating the right environment for new technology to thrive. Our regulatory framework for connected and autonomous vehicles is the most progressive in Europe. This enables car manufacturers and major component suppliers to develop and test their technology with minimum bureaucracy. Already, Volvo has committed to the UK as the only ‘neutral’ testing venue outside its own factory locations.

    The government also has up to 50 billion GBP available to support finance and insurance for supplies from within the UK to buyers outside the UK. This support takes the form of guarantees, insurance and loans issued by its export credit agency, UK Export Finance.

  • Next steps

    We can help you grow your business in the UK

    Whether you’ve already decided to grow your business here or you’re just starting your research, the UK government can help you make the right decision.

    Research your industry

    You should research your market to help you decide if the UK is the best place for your business. Contact our Investment Services Team to get market research and other expert help and advice.

    Want to move your business to the UK?

    You’ll need to follow several steps before moving to the UK, including applying for visas and finding the ideal location for your business. Read our UK setup guide.

    The UK government can give you free help and support every step of the way. Contact us to find out more.