Green leaf in a car exhaust



Innovate UK

Total value of project


Value to Coventry University


Project team

Dr Christophe BastienDr Jesper Christensen


Unipart Powertrain Applications Ltd (Lead); Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, Coventry; Ricor Limited, Studley; Johnson Matthey, London; TWI The Welding Institute

Duration of project

01/07/2015 - 30/06/2017

Innovate UK logo

Project overview

The project will develop a new highly innovative lightweight exhaust system for forced induction diesel and petrol automotive vehicles.

This project will deliver cost-effective materials and manufacturing technology, including metrology and CAE methods to enable a step change reduction of 50% of the mass of an exhaust system. It will provide innovative solutions to the manufacturing challenges associated with down-gauging exhaust components in terms of jigging, forming, joining and metrology as well as the overall design methodology.

The project will also focus on the development of new and innovative material processes for the hot-end of the exhaust system including the associated manufacturing challenges. The ultimate aim is to significantly reduce the overall system mass, thus for instance giving an annual CO2 saving of 325m tonnes for cars, fuel savings and a significant reduction of precious metals being used in catalytic converters. The project brings together 5 organisations in a 2 year project.

Project objectives

The Ultra Lightweight Exhaust project aligns with the scope of the competition by aiming to achieve lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures. The major objectives are:

  1. Cost-effective material/manufacturing technologies that will deliver a step change in weight reduction for a given system or product requirement. This outcome will be obtained by the use of cost-effective materials and manufacturing technology, including metrology and CAE methods.
  2. Designs and production processes that enable substitution or reduction of lightweight materials which are scarce, harmful or difficult to recycle will be achieved by reducing the amount of precious metals required in a comparable exhaust system. This outcome will be obtained due to the fact that a lighter/thinner gauge system with less thermal mass/inertia will reach its operating temperature more quickly requiring less precious metal in its catalytic converter.

The project has considerable but measured technical risk and requires a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team to work in close collaboration to develop and exploit the outputs.

  • The automotive market dominates the opportunities for the partners to supply lightweight exhaust systems where the UK manufactured 1,460,000 new vehicles in 2013, exporting approximately 80% of which half went to EU countries (SMMT). Putting these numbers into context JLR currently sell nearly 440,000 vehicles per year (all of which would benefit from the technology) and are targeting a worldwide sales increase to 1,000,000 pa by 2020. UEES are scheduled to supply >200,000 exhaust systems in 2015 alone to JLR and other OEM's. The market for automotive exhaust systems is not dominated by a single company and is very price sensitive.

    Based on an average sales price of £700 for an exhaust system for the luxury car market where UEES aims to operate it is estimated they can generate cc £18m of new business within 2 yrs of the project concluding through producing 90,000 additional hot and cold end units and saving 15kg (50%) per system. 5yrs post project this is estimated at 190,000 additional units saving 19kg (50%) per complete system generating > £100m of new business.

    Much of the exhaust system content of JLR's vehicles is already manufactured in the UK, with hot end exhaust assembly at UEES in Coventry, hot and cold end exhaust assembly at Tenneco in Tredegar (S.Wales), hot and cold end exhaust at Faurecia in Fradley. The total annual turnover for JLR exhaust system business is £400m (worldwide).

    This project provides opportunities to augment the existing UK manufacturing scale, and its downstream UK supply chain. Return on Investment in this project is the ability for JLR to remain competitive in a global 2020 market worth over £25bn per year, and significantly benefit the UK supply chain, whilst delivering a worldwide CO2 reduction of circa 140,000 tonnes per year. The typical on-cycle fuel economy improvement delivered by this technology will be 0.7 g/Km CO2 saving per vehicle.

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