Prince Charles has formally launched a new 150-million pound Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) innovation centre, Europe’s largest automotive research and development facility of its kind, at the University of Warwick in central England to create sustainable future mobility projects.
The National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) will house up to 1,000 academics, researchers, engineers and designers from across the UK and India to work on cars and vehicles of the future.
The centre, which was launched on Tuesday, is dedicated to advanced automotive research, design and development.
The collaboration between Tata Motors, JLR and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) is aimed at creating sustainable future mobility projects, including electrified and autonomous vehicles.
“This centre in the heart of the United Kingdom brings together from industry and academia some of the brightest minds to tackle some of our society’s toughest problems,” said Prince Charles, who admitted pressing for action on environmental issues for nearly 50 years.
“In all the years what has always struck me is the need for a cooperative, joint up approach between all those who are pursuing the same goal by whatever means. This centre is now pulling together many of the most talented people tackling society’s greatest mobility challenges and is helping to shape the future of the automotive industry,” he said at the launch attended by Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata.
The 33,000 square metre centre is designed as an innovative, collaborative workspace and includes cutting-edge workshops, laboratories, virtual engineering suites and advanced powertrain facilities.
“At Jaguar and Land Rover, we believe in creating a better tomorrow for mobility. A future of zero emissions, zero congestion and zero accidents,” said JLR CEO Ralf Speth.
“We call it ‘Destination Zero’ and the National Automotive Innovation Centre will make sure we get there,” he said.
Speth explained that at the NAIC, academics, manufacturers and suppliers will work towards developing a smart, safe transport infrastructure that integrates autonomous vehicles and public transport, design zero-emission vehicles powered by smart-chargers and renewable energy, and discover material and digital manufacturing innovations that will eliminate waste.
As part of the NAIC’s integrated approach, engineers from Tata Motors’ Pune design base will come to the UK on a temporary basis and colleagues from Britain will also work in India.
Guenter Butschek, CEO and MD of Tata Motors, said: “The National Automotive Innovation Centre brings together our UK-based engineering and design experts to one setting, providing greater synergy on ground-breaking design and technologies with a focus on connected, electric, shared and safe, that will help shape future mobility solutions in India.
“The centre has been carefully designed to support the future of automotive advancements. Its virtual engineering suite, powertrain facilities, laboratories and cutting-edge design workshop provide an inspiring, productive and collaborative environment for the future”.
The concept for the 150-million pounds (USD 195 million) NAIC was initiated by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, the Indian-origin founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), and the building it is located in is named after him.
“The late Professor Lord Bhattacharyya’s vision was for future generations of designers, researchers and engineers to be inspired to innovate through collaborative research projects with manufacturers, suppliers and academia at the National Automotive Innovation Centre,” said Professor David Mullins, Interim Head of the WMG.
The WMG said that students and apprentices work alongside experts and leaders in their fields at the new centre, which will also transform university curricula over time to supports emerging technologies and mobility solutions.
“Its location underscores Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands’ leading roles in UK and international automotive innovation and research,” said Professor Stuart Croft, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick.
The launch event also marked the unveiling of JLR’s new concept vehicle created at the NAIC, Project Vector, as part of the company’s Destination Zero vision of an autonomous, electric, connected future for urban mobility.
The UK’s largest automotive manufacturer JLR said that Project Vector showcases an advanced, flexible, multi-use electric vehicle that is “autonomy-ready”.
“It has been developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre to gain the advantages of working with agility and close collaboration with academic and external partners,” JLR added.