Valeo is to receive EUR61m from OSEO, the French state financing group dedicated to supporting innovation, for its research program LowCO2motion, which aims to improve vehicle engine efficiency and contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.

The funding, granted by the French Industrial Innovation Agency (Agence de l'Innovation Industrielle, AII) which is now part of OSEO, was authorised by the European Commission this week.

The programme will receive EUR211.6m in 2007-2011 and Valeo gets EUR54.8m (EUR19m in direct subsidies and the rest in repayable short-term loans). The supplier's partners are PSA Peugeot Citroen, Batscap, IFP (Institut Francais du Petrole) and INPG (Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble).

The programme is focused on two major innovations. The first is the camless system, in which the camshaft in engines is replaced by electromagnetic actuators that operate each valve independently.

By controlling residual gases, minimising pumping losses and deactivating cylinders and valves, this technology reduces petrol engine fuel consumption and pollutant emissions by 20%. It also provides enhanced performance and driving comfort due to an increase in low-end engine torque.

A version for diesels will also be developed.

The second innovation, compatible with the camless system, is a next-generation mild hybrid based on Valeo's Stars+X technology. In addition to a start-stop function which cuts off the engine when the vehicle is at a standstill, this system features regenerative braking where energy is recovered.

The programme includes the development of a new high-efficiency, high-power alternator technology as well as ultracapacitors, enabling a 10 to 15% reduction in fuel consumption.

These innovations will be enabled by new mechatronic technologies which are also part of the programme.