Currently reading: Electric Ariel Nomad project wins £300,000 government grant
Somerset firm has already built electric prototype and will use APC funding to develop production version

Ariel and three partner firms have secured funding worth around £300,000 to bring an electric Nomad off-roader to production “over the next few years”.

The backing comes through the Niche Vehicle Network, the body set up to assist the UK’s many specialist manufacturers, which is itself backed by the semi-government Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), which directs grant funding to deserving mobility projects. 

Ariel is understood already to have built a battery-powered prototype and will use the money – which is conditional on it and its partners contributing another £300,000 of their own – to develop a production-ready specification for the vehicle, with all the powertrain and battery research this implies. It's possible, for instance, that an electric Nomad could use a four-wheel drive system.

The Somerset firm's partners in the project include Rockfort, a battery research company with strong Formula E connections, and BAMD, a biocomposite specialist whose expertise is in natural, recyclable composite materials.

Ariel boss Simon Saunders wouldn't be drawn on a completion date for the project, especially since the firm is understood to be within a few months of launching an all-new, petrol-engined Nomad 2.

Ariel Nomad sliding through corner – side

“Small-series manufacturers like us will get some kind of derogation of regulations that allows us to build our existing cars for longer," Saunders said, "but I think we should be seeking zero emissions for moral reasons.

"At Ariel, we’re keen to do as much as possible to clean up the environment. It’s as much our responsibility as any other car manufacturer's.”

Saunders stressed two other priorities. First, he said, any Ariel EV must be “reliable and absolutely right”. Second, it has to be a better performer than existing ICE Ariels.

He cited a previous electric Atom project, in which Ariel was a partner years ago, that produced a vehicle “not quite as fast and three times as expensive” as standard cars, and promised that any electric Nomad would be better than that.


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Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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macboy 11 October 2023

Is this really a good use of Taxpayer's money? £300,000 for what? If they can't afford to develop their own ultra-niche cars, should the government honestly subsidize it? £10,000 per worker to future proof their jobs? Am I missing something? Are all small business owners getting that? Were's the trickle-down of this technology investment?

jason_recliner 11 October 2023

The workers will pay back more than 10,000 each in the first year. Sounds like a bargain to keep an innovative sexy growing business in the UK.

A34 10 October 2023

Story here is not "electric research grant" (remember the Morgan 3 Wheeler EV that never made it?). Its that there is a Nomad 2 in the works. Good to hear! I'll have one with a little more weather protection...

Peter Cavellini 10 October 2023

How did Ariel pitch this to get a grant?, it's not practical,usually with just the driver in it, not really daily transport and it's not cheap for a car with no real body and looks like part of a small Bridge.