Passenger vehicle manufacturing

World-leading technology

There is a strong focus among our four universities, Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland, on improving vehicle manufacturing – both from passenger and environmental standpoints. The North East is home to Nissan, the UK’s most productive car plant, and this provides inspiration to our institutions and offers access to world-leading technology.

New vehicle technologies

The ‘Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice’ (AMAP) at Sunderland University provides accessible expertise, supporting innovation in product design, development and manufacturing processes.

AMAP harnesses specific expertise in Low Carbon vehicle technologies, next generation fuel cells, Telematics, Life on Board and associated data issues, lightweight materials and grapheme research and Driver Behaviours.

The Centre for Automotive Research at Durham University brings together expertise from the departments of Engineering, Mathematics and Physics to support the motor industry worldwide. Expertise includes aerodynamics, hybrid-electric vehicles, statistical mathematics modelling, stress, vibration and acoustic analysis. An extensive series of Wind Tunnels, computer-controlled with automated measuring systems including turbulent flow are available. They also have expertise in Thermodynamics, Waste Heat Recovery, Communications & Networks, Autonomous Driving, Collision Avoidance, Advanced Instrumentation, Supply Chain & Innovation and Advanced Materials, and Coatings Metrology.

At Northumbria University this research forms part of the future engineering research theme, a multidisciplinary approach to meeting the engineering challenges of our future urban environments. Examples include a collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover to measure the effects of turbulence on vehicles due to wind and travelling in the wake of other vehicles. They also work on the connection between low carbon energy sources, power grids and electric vehicle battery management, with external organisations such as Charge Your Car. Research into Wireless ad hoc and sensor networks is considering potential applications in vehicular communication and intelligent transport systems with researchers working to extract natural waxes from food waste as an alternative to using waxes from fossil fuel sources.

Newcastle University’s strengths include: advanced power drive systems; novel, high efficiency and low cost machines; and battery technology and testing.

Exploring rail

Newcastle University’s Rail Vehicles Group is focused on developing lightweight, crashworthy structures to meet the rail industry’s demands for increased capacity, safety, and energy efficiency/environmental sustainability. Strengths include:

  • Design and development of large composite material structures for transport applications
  • Crashworthy composite structures – cabs, bodyshells and interior components
  • Modelling and analysis of vehicle structures and components
  • Joining technologies for vehicle construction
  • Materials selection, evaluation, and testing
  • Fire safe rail vehicles.


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