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Case study

Collaboration brings low-carbon engines to mass markets

Challenges with Mass-Market Production

Ashwoods Automotive offer hybrid systems for light commercial vehicles.

Fitted to front or rear-wheel drive diesel vans, their systems have been proven to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs.

In 2010, while still a relatively small company, Ashwoods lacked the resources to get the most out of their technology at a price that was suitable for mass-market production.

They hoped that through working with the University’s Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems, they could reduce costs while maintaining the system’s carbon dioxide reducing qualities.


Our Approach: Combining our expertise

A joint project team – funded by an EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Account – took expertise in powertrain systems and carbon dioxide reduction already developed at the University and combined it with Ashwood’s hybrid product and design expertise.

The University helped Ashwoods build a control strategy that could take take their system and get the most out of it in a real-world situation – to offer a very good cost/benefit ratio.

The project team has also developed a driver training device that assesses how ‘aggressive’ a driver is being and gives them feedback they can use to improve their fuel efficiency.


The Outcome: Hybrid System Suitable for the Mass-Market

As a result of this project, a hybrid system suitable for the mass-market was established and is now being sold by Ashwoods.

The benefits provided by this new system include:

  • lower carbon dioxide emissions
  • cheaper to produce 
  • requires less fuel

The newly developed motor has the best cost-to-performance ratio of any competing product.

In addition, the driver training device has demonstrated significant fuel consumption benefits in fleet trials (over 10% in some cases) and is now sold as a stand-alone product – in large volumes, to some of the largest fleets in the country.


How Hybrid Engines Work

A typical hybrid vehicle has two means of propulsion – usually an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, powered by a battery pack.

Every time a vehicle decelerates and stops it wastes energy in the brakes, turning it into heat.

Hybrid systems capture some of that energy, store it in the battery and then re-use it to supply power when accelerating the next time, reducing the amount of fuel the vehicle consumes.