Companies have been invited to bid for up to £15m in funding to develop low emission technology for road freight vehicles.

The funding, supplied by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, Innovate UK and the Faraday Challenge (a project led by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy), will challenge firms to develop technology which could make vehicles lighter or improve the efficiency of engines or batteries.

In order to qualify, companies must be based in the UK, must carry out the project in the UK and must collaborate with others. The projects should last between 12 months and three years.

However, projects involving “business as usual” projects, zero carbon fuels or internal combustion engines for passenger cars will not be funded.

Companies can apply for funding from today (21 September) and have until 13 December to submit their bid.

Roads minister Jesse Norman said: “We have made important progress in lowering emissions and are always looking at further ways of improving air quality.

“Lorries cause a third of the UK’s transport CO2 emissions and simple new technologies can have the greatest impact in reducing the harmful pollutants of freight.

“This funding will give UK companies the chance to lead the world in developing important innovations to improve air quality across the country.”

The DfT said the first of the projects in the Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial, which began earlier this year, are now using electric and hydrogen dual-fuel vehicles on the roads. It expects that by mid-2018 there will be more than 300 low emission CVs in operation.