Local authorities are key enablers in the public’s transition towards a decarbonised transport system. However, there is recognition that the local authorities themselves need to decarbonise their operations in order for the UK to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Luton Borough Council is working towards becoming a Net Zero authority by 2040. However, there is a desire to switch to cleaner vehicles sooner if this is practical and economically feasible. Their current assets typically have a lifetime of 10-15 years, but it is not economically feasible to scrap these vehicles and replace them with low/zero carbon options, therefore the challenge is to prolong the operating life of the current fleet through retrofitting decarbonised solutions.

A fleet review was conducted in 2019 but the council recognises the need to update this, so applications that incorporate this as part of the solution are encouraged.

Luton Council’s current vehicle fleet consists of:

  • 26 Refuse Collection Vehicle
  • 14 other HGV vehicles
  • 200 light commercial vehicles, including tippers, panel vans & car-derived vans
  • 60 minibuses, both with and without tail lifts

While it is not required that a solution will be able to target all vehicles, a solution which can target multiple vehicle types would be preferable.

Proposals are welcome for solutions involving:

  • Alternative fuels
  • Fuel cells
  • Hybrid approaches
  • New engine design/replacement power trains
  • Retrofit or modifications to the drive train (recognising the need to preserve warranties)
  • Batteries
  • Hydrogen
  • Smart controllers and telemetry

Proposals are welcome for:

  • Existing market-ready technologies
  • Established solutions from other sectors of industry which can be adapted for this application.
  • Development proposals based on existing competences.
  • Universities, RTOs and Catapults with solutions above TRL 5

The challenge owners will not consider:

  • Scrapping existing vehicles or reducing their operating life
  • Solutions that are not replicable across the fleet
  • Solutions offering generic advice
  • Proposals to only perform a feasibility study
  • Proposals solely based on fuel additives or conditioners

There is currently no maximum cost limit for this challenge. Budgets amongst Local Authorities can vary significantly, and the available budget will depend on what is being proposed within the solutions. The proposed cost of solutions should be proportional to the ease of implementation and demonstrated benefit.

This challenge offers a multi-year development opportunity for the right solution, with successful solution(s) potentially being deployed across the client’s portfolio and wider.

This opportunity is open to both academic and industrial practitioners.

  • Collaborative solutions (B2B and B2R&D) are valid applications. If collaborative solutions are being tabled, a single lead organisation needs to register the application. This organisation can be either an industrial or academic partner.
  • Industrial participants should be established businesses, start-ups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs.
  • All organisations participating in this programme (including members of collaboration not registering as lead organisations) need to be UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base.
  • Technology-based and dependant solutions are expected to be around TRL5 +.