Chief Executive and Chair appointed for £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre

The government and industry’s strategy for building greener and more efficient car engines took a major step forward today with the appointment of 2 key figures in the auto sector. Dr. Gerhard Schmidt and Tony Pixton – who both have extensive experience in the industry – have been appointed as Chair and Chief Executive of the newly formed Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

Part of the automotive industrial strategy, the APC will channel £1 billion of investment from government and industry over the next 10 years to speed up the development of greener technologies for engines. Widely backed across the sector, including supply chain companies, the centre is expected to secure up to 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain.

Dr. Gerhard Schmidt worked at BMW for 21 years in engine research and development and recently spent many years in the role of Chief Technical Officer at Ford. Tony Pixton brings 35 years of experience in the automotive industry to the role, with previous positions in product development at Ford and Volvo and most recently at Mazda in Japan.

Business Secretary and Co-Chair of the Automotive Council, Vince Cable said:

With the right leadership, the new Advanced Propulsion Centre – which this government has funded jointly with industry – will enable businesses to make and test low carbon technologies and position the UK as a leading innovator in engine design, with the potential to create 30,000 new private sector jobs. Tony Pixton and Gerhard Schmidt both have extensive experience in the car industry. Their expertise and knowledge of innovation in engine development will be invaluable to the APC.

Chair of the Automotive Council Professor Richard Parry-Jones, said:

The £1 billion UK Advanced Propulsion Centre was the headline announcement of our automotive industrial strategy. With its unprecedented scale and duration, it is a game changing addition to the innovation system to position the UK at the forefront of global vehicle developments. We aim to make the UK Advanced Propulsion Centre operational in a few months, for which we need talented, experienced and trusted leaders in place to make it happen. Tony and Gerhard are superb fits for the roles. I am delighted that they are so enthusiastic to become involved.

Chair of the APC Dr. Gerhard Schmidt said:

It is an honour to be allowed to contribute to the automotive industrial strategy of the Automotive Council under the leadership of Business Secretary Vince Cable and Professor Richard Parry-Jones. I am looking forward to working with CEO Tony Pixton to help establish the Advanced Propulsion Centre as a global centre of excellence for propulsion technologies.

The first competition for APC projects opened on the 2 December 2013 with £75 million available for businesses to make and test new low carbon technologies. The competition closes on the 5 February 2014.

Chief Executive of the APC Tony Pixton said:

I am delighted to be taking up this exciting and challenging role and to be working with the Automotive Council and Dr. Gerhard Schmidt. I believe that my knowledge and experience of the global automotive industry will contribute to developing the Advanced Propulsion Centre into a world class resource, to position the UK as a leader in automotive propulsion technologies.

Notes to Editors

Tony Pixton has been Managing Director for Tony Pixton Consulting Limited since 2012. Between 2009 and 2012, he was Representative Director and Assistant to the President at Mazda in Japan, Chairman of the Board at Auto Alliance International in the USA and Member of the Board at Auto Alliance Thailand. Before this, he held roles as Executive Director of Product Development at Ford UK from 2006 to 2009, Platform Director in R&D at Volvo in Sweden from 2003 to 2006 and Director of Product Development at Ford Werke AG in Germany from 2000 to 2003. He was also Operations Manager for the European Service at Ford UK between 1998 and 2000 and he was Chief Program Engineer for Ford Focus between 1994 and 1998.

Before retiring, Gerhard Schmidt worked at Ford as Chief Technical Officer from 2006 to 2011 and as Vice President of Research and Advanced Engineering from 2001 to 2011. He also worked at BMW for 21 years and held roles as the Vice President of Vehicle Development, the Vice President of Powertrain and Director of Design of All Gasoline Engines.

Industry Automotive Council members endorsed and led the selection process and have established the APC as the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK Ltd.

The government and automotive industry are jointly investing £1 billion over the next 10 years in the APC to research, develop and commercialise the technologies for the vehicles of the future. Backed by 27 companies in the sector, including supply chain companies, the commitment is expected to secure at least 30,000 jobs currently linked to producing engines and create many more in the supply chain. The APC was announced by Co-Chairs of the Automotive Council Vince Cable and Richard Parry-Jones in July. It forms part of ‘Driving success’ – an industrial strategy for growth and sustainability in the UK automotive sector.

The joint industry/government Automotive Council was set up in 2009 as part of the government’s response to recommendations made in the industry-led report from the New Automotive Innovation and Growth Team (NAIGT). It is co-chaired by the Business Secretary Vince Cable and Professor Richard Parry-Jones. Its main aims are to enhance the attractiveness of the UK as a location for global automotive investment, promote UK-based manufacturers and technologies, strengthen the supply chain and position the UK as a leading global player in developing, manufacturing and using ultra-low carbon technologies.

The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  1. to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  2. to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  3. to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  4. to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

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