The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath

Exciting expansion for University of Bath’s prize-winning research centre

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath is a leading centre for theoretical, experimental and analytical research into powertrain systems in the UK.

The PVRC has an excellent track record in delivering industry-relevant projects and has long-established collaborations with industrial partners, such as Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren, as well as SMEs. The Centre considers its remit to be all of the links in the chain from energy storage to its conversion into mechanical work on board a vehicle and has recently secured £59m in investment for the Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) which will propel PVRC into a global leading position.

The PVRC’s 50-strong professional research team operates state-of-the-art testing facilities. Our cutting-edge research includes whole powertrain and major subsystems, including:

•    Internal combustion engines

•    Air path systems

•    Transmission systems

•    Electrification

•    Alternative fuels

With an impressive £8m portfolio, we have an outstanding history of securing funding from major research funders, such as the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, Innovate UK and Horizon 2020. We have made a significant contribution to the continued development of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles, enhancing fuel economy and reducing their CO2 emissions. We continue to play an important role in the vital task of making a cleaner environment.

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath

The PVRC has been identified by the University of Bath as the leading strategic group in low-carbon research. We are actively developing strong interdisciplinary research activities with experts in chemical engineering, chemistry, mathematical and computer sciences, biology and biochemistry, electronic and electrical engineering and psychology. We have a large cohort of PhD students, nurturing the next generation of powertrain research leads. Our research capacity is continuously growing with the confirmed plans to build and operate IAAPS as an internationally leading research facility.

The Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) will be a global centre of excellence, delivering transformational research and innovation into advanced propulsion systems. Located at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, it will lead the development of future generations of ultra-low emission vehicles and attract sector-related businesses to the region, generating economic growth. IAAPS is scheduled to open in early 2020.

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath

The Institute will exploit the engineering expertise of the University of Bath for the benefit of the UK’s automotive industry. IAAPS is projected to stimulate over £67m in additional automotive research investment by 2025, creating an additional turnover of £800 million for the UK automotive sector and supporting nearly 1,900 new highly productive jobs.

The capital investment of £28.9 million announced in July 2017 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), will enable construction of the £60m IAAPS facility to start in the summer of 2018.

The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership has also committed support for the project with the allocation of £10m through the Local Growth Fund*.

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath

Global companies, including McLaren, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, as well as more local businesses such as HiETA Technologies, have been key to the success of the IAAPS concept. The support and advocacy of the Automotive Council and the Advanced Propulsion Centre, alongside the support of the University’s Industrial Partners will continue to play a key role as the vision becomes reality.

Specialist facilities will make IAAPS a centre of excellence for training and skills development in automotive engineering, supporting new Apprenticeships, Honours Degrees, Masters and Doctoral courses, helping to address the engineering skills shortage facing the UK automotive sector.

IAAPS will also support the development of a much larger and more competitive automotive business cluster in the South West by providing access to its state-of-the art facilities to regional start-ups and small to medium-sized companies.

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) of the University of Bath

The University of Bath is delighted that IAAPS has received the support and backing of the Government. The University has over 40 years of automotive research excellence in collaboration with some of the world’s leading companies and is ideally placed to turn this opportunity into a reality. IAAPS will help to ensure the UK maintains and expands its global position within the automotive sector.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “The UK's world-renowned leadership in science, research and innovation is helping to solve a range of national and global challenges, and the breadth of the projects funded today means this will continue.

“Through our Industrial Strategy and £4.7 billion investment for research and development, we're ensuring we capitalise on the great work taking place in universities across the UK and remain at the forefront of innovation.”

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “I’m delighted that through the Joint Committee we’ve been able to support the development of this global centre of excellence in our region. Supporting innovation and business growth is key to the economic success of the West of England.”

Graham Hoare, Director of Global vehicle evaluation and verification at Ford Motor Company, commented: “IAAPS will build on the strength of the University of Bath’s competence in propulsion development to bring real world examples and real world environments into the laboratory, a massive step forward in innovating propulsion systems.”

Mark Mathieson, Chief Engineer Powertrain at McLaren Automotive, added: “The window of opportunity to invest in this facility exists now. The Institute will be of great benefit to McLaren’s programmes.”

The Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC) is also recruiting! To find more about the projects we are running, and the opportunities for your business in partnering with us, please contact Shan Bradley-Cong at

For current vacancies, please visit the ‘Vacancies’ section.

* Subject to approval of the Full Business Case by the West of England Joint Committee. The committee comprises the constituent councils of the West of England Combined Authority (Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council) and North Somerset Council.

Chris Brace, Professor of Automotive Propulsion and deputy director of the Powertrain Vehicle Research Centre

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