Second-year University of Sussex mechanical engineering student Joshua de Wit is the 2016 Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award winner.
The 21-year-old’s concept, which was revealed as the winner at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) annual dinner tonight, uses an innovative graphene battery that makes best use of the material's conductivity, lightness and strength to introduce a completely new design.
De Wit’s stacked graphene battery design drastically shortens charging times and the flexibility of the material means far less is needed, which reduces cost, weight, storage capacity and size and maximises efficiency.
De Wit will now embark on a six-month work experience tour of award sponsors Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Nissan, Peugeot and Toyota. He said: “It is a privilege to be presented with the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award. From the outset, this has been a challenging but rewarding experience and the mentoring programme has really helped me to develop my idea and push myself further.
“I’m now excited at the prospect of working with some of the world’s most renowned vehicle manufacturers – experience which, I’ve no doubt, will stand me in excellent stead for carving out a career after university.”
This year’s competition was another closely fought one. The two other finalists also impressed judges with unique and innovative entries. Joel Hayes from Northumbria University presented an autonomous vehicle promotion campaign called ‘Be Driven’ and Manuel Agustin Yepez Corsetti from the University of Glasgow created a concept that harvests waste energy with thermo-electric materials.
Martin Bohling, global managing partner at Courland Automotive, said: “It is truly a delight and honour to be involved in this award and to have the opportunity to meet such capable, passionate and extraordinary young talent. We will indeed be fortunate to have any one of the finalists pursue a career in the automotive industry.”
Autocar editor-in-chief Steve Cropley said: “This award continues to go from strength to strength in its quest to identify, nurture and inspire the talent of the future for the automotive industry. It has been extremely difficult this year to narrow our entries down to just a handful – a testament to how talented and impressive the entries were this year.
“I would like to personally congratulate not only the winner, Joshua, but also the finalists, who came extremely close. The ideas and concepts they all produced were some of the finest the award has seen and it was difficult to choose a clear winner. If this award is anything to go by, the future is certainly bright for the automotive industry.”