WORK on an alternative motor for electric vehicles that’s less harmful to the environment is to get underway in Wales with £1.8 million in support from car manufacturer Ford.

Caerphilly-based advanced research and development firm Deregallera will lead a project that will see it work with Cwmbran-based commercial brake manufacturer Meritor and academics at Cardiff University to design, develop and test a new low-carbon electric vehicle motor which uses fewer “rare earth” materials.

As well as making the motors cheaper and minimising the environmental and climate impacts it will also mean the industry is less reliant on China where nearly 85 per cnet of the world’s reserves of the special materials needed for permanent magnets, currently used for motors, are found.

The cash has been awarded from the Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund which is administered by the Welsh Government as part of the US manufacturer's legacy in Wales.

Economy minister, Vaughan Gething said jobs connected to new techologies can support the Welsh economy.

He said: "We need more electric cars, buses, and cleaner trucks on our roads. As a globally responsible nation, we also want to look after nature and make sure we do not squander finite global resources like “rare earth” materials.

“As part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to innovation, we want to see Welsh companies and academics come together to find innovative made-in-Wales solutions to global problems. So, I am delighted we have been able to fund this exciting new project, which delivers on that ambition.

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“I am excited by the potential of this project to deliver an alternative vehicle motor that is sustainable. This could deliver significant benefits to our economy and our society. I am confident this will lead to the creation of new innovative, all-Welsh supply chains that will help power our economy long into the future.”

A spokesperson from the Ford Motor company added: “This is exactly the sort of innovative technical collaboration we wanted our legacy fund to support. The fund will provide a kick-start to two other low carbon vehicle projects in Wales, and we can’t wait to see what the next round of funding will bring."

The Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund will open for a second round of applications on Monday August 1 this year.

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