Ariel will use the grant money to develop a production-ready specification for an electric Nomad
Somerset firm has already built electric prototype and will use APC funding to develop production version
The backing comes through the Niche Vehicle Network, the body set up to assist the UK’s many specialist manufacturers, which is itself backed by the semi-government Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), which directs grant funding to deserving mobility projects.
Ariel is understood already to have built a battery-powered prototype and will use the money – which is conditional on it and its partners contributing another £300,000 of their own – to develop a production-ready specification for the vehicle, with all the powertrain and battery research this implies. It’s possible, for instance, that an electric Nomad could use a four-wheel drive system.
The Somerset firm’s partners in the project include Rockfort, a battery research company with strong Formula E connections, and BAMD, a biocomposite specialist whose expertise is in natural, recyclable composite materials.
Ariel boss Simon Saunders wouldn’t be drawn on a completion date for the project, especially since the firm is understood to be within a few months of launching an all-new, petrol-engined Nomad 2.
“Small-series manufacturers like us will get some kind of derogation of regulations that allows us to build our existing cars for longer,” Saunders said, “but I think we should be seeking zero emissions for moral reasons.
“At Ariel, we’re keen to do as much as possible to clean up the environment. It’s as much our responsibility as any other car manufacturer’s.”
Saunders stressed two other priorities. First, he said, any Ariel EV must be “reliable and absolutely right”. Second, it has to be a better performer than existing ICE Ariels.
He cited a previous electric Atom project, in which Ariel was a partner years ago, that produced a vehicle “not quite as fast and three times as expensive” as standard cars, and promised that any electric Nomad would be better than that.