Group photo of attendees at the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and Birmingham CASE Automotive Research and Education Centre roundtable
Attendees at the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and Birmingham CASE Automotive Research and Education Centre roundtable

The roundtable took place on 10 January 2023 and focused on developments and advances for commercial vehicles and new energy. It was supported by Silverstone Technology Centre, the Northern Automotive Alliance, and UK Chinese Society of Automotive Engineers, with live streaming service provided by Gasgoo Automotive.

The speakers included David Gregory, China Market Business Advisor, for the AMT sector of CBBC; Professor Jon Frampton, Vice-Chancellor and Director of the China Institute, University of Birmingham; Professor Hongming Xu, director of Birmingham C.A.S.E. Automotive Research and Education Centre; Richard Shillingford, consultant to BYD UK; Andrew Murphy, Advisor Future Mobility, BP; Mike Petch, Strategic Technical Director and Hydrogen Technology Specialist at Johnson Matthey UK; Roger Cracknell, a Senior Principal Specialist focusing on Combustion and Mobility at Shell; and Dr Jun Qiao, Group Chief Engineer at Changan UK R & D Centre. In addition, over 20 industry experts joined in the roundtable discussion, including Chris Harris, Head of Business Development at the Centre for Advanced Propulsion; Paul Jones, CEO of the Northern Automotive Alliance; and Jay Schofield, Marketing Director of Grainger & Worrall.

The experts delivered interesting presentations on future development of the new energy commercial, vehicle market and technology, followed by a Q&A session where attendees had in-depth discussions and exchanges with the speakers. The seminar was chaired by David Gregory and was watched online by over 5,000 people across the network.

At the beginning of the meeting, David Gregory made an introduction to the Automotive Roundtable and extended a cordial greeting and warm welcome to the attendees. He pointed out that CBBC is a business membership organisation, that supports UK companies to succeed in doing business with China whether that be exporting goods, technology or expertise, operating within China or perhaps working together with Chinese companies. Professor Jon Frampton, also gave a warm welcome to the attendees with a report of current work of the China Institute with expectations for further cooperation and exchanges between the UK and China, and expressed his wishes for a successful event.

The presentation made by Professor Hongming Xu firstly introduced the C.A.S.E. Automotive Research and Education Centre at the University of Birmingham and called for collaboration using the information on the Website. Then he presented ongoing work in collaboration with auto field in China, starting from the recent 5-year project with Tsinghua University and Peking University in recent years. This was followed by the ongoing collaborative research and development projects with Suzhou Automotive Research Institute and with BYD on plug-in hybrid vehicles and dedicated hybrid engines. Finally, Professor Hongming Xu expressed his expectations for further cooperation with Chinese universities and companies in the future.

The following presentation was given by Richard Shillingford consultant to BYD UK, which focused on the development and challenges of new energy vehicles. Taking electric vehicles as an example, he pointed out the current challenges of operating new energy vehicles in the context of market data, introduced the importance of further development of battery technology and gave an outlook on the future development of BYD UK.

A presentation by Andrew Murphy, Advisor Future Mobility, for BP, focused on the decarbonisation of heavy transport. Combined with a graph of predicted CO2 emissions, he suggested that improvements in energy efficiency alone would not be sufficient to achieve carbon emissions targets. He set out three targets for BP by 2050, which are zero carbon in operations, zero carbon in upstream oil and gas production processes and a reduction in the carbon intensity of products sold to net zero. He noted that both hydrogen and purely electric vehicles will play an important role in furthering net zero in the future.

Next, Dr Mike Petch, Strategic Technical Director and Hydrogen Technology Specialist from Johnson Matthey UK, spoke on the use of hydrogen fuel cells in freight transport. By comparing the use of electricity with hydrogen energy, he pointed out that clean hydrogen energy will play an important role in the future. He also discussed the cost of hydrogen power systems in the context of government policy, which is lower than that of electric power systems and will eventually be lower than the cost of internal combustion engine systems. The company will build a safe and sustainable hydrogen energy supply chain in the coming years to achieve a cleaner and healthier environment.

Roger Cracknell, a Senior Principal Specialist for Combustion and Mobility, Shell, gave a presentation on the Joint Research Centre for Clean Energy, a collaboration between Shell and Tsinghua University. With a history of Shell's development in China and several achievements, the main objective of the Joint Research Centre for Clean Energy is to accelerate the process of driving zero emissions in China. He pointed out that the centre has four main components: core project research, policy and market research, campaign promotion and partnership seeking. He then reviewed the key activities carried out in China in recent years and gave an overview of the next project on all-weather tram charging technology.

Finally, Dr Jun Qiao, Group Chief Engineer from Changan UK R& D Centre shared his views on decarbonisation. He started by introducing the history and current status of Changan Automobile and pointed out that the company plans to become a low-carbon technology company and is gradually doing so. Next, he introduced Changan's development and low carbon research in the field of new energy vehicles with three of Changan's core products in recent years, IDD, Changan Deep Blue and AVATR, and expressed his expectation for further cooperation in international community in the future.

After the presentations, the attendees and audience actively asked questions and engaged in an in-depth exchange with the speakers on developments in China and the UK from different professional perspectives, followed by a group photo and a free-flowing networking during a working lunch. The participants have showed their interest in development of the C.A.S.E. Automotive Research and Education centre in Birmingham. They are interested to join the follow-up activities discussed during this event, to explore the possibility of collaboration with the University of Birmingham and CBBC. More communications will follow.