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Net Zero: An innovative 150-year-old business with a 21st Century focus

From designing and patenting the first Penny Farthing spoked bicycle wheel in 1871, through to the iconic vehicles we see today, this Somerset-based firm has always put design and innovation at the forefront of development.

Ariel thrive as manufacturers of unique vehicles that are among the fastest, and most interesting, in the world. For each unique product, one technician is responsible for the entire build, and carries the assembly right through to road test and personal sign off (which will only happen when they are truly happy with it). Unlike a mass production factory, customers are able to see their vehicle being built, talk to the technician, and be part of the creation process. This ensures that their vehicle is built to their exact specification.

Net zero ambitions…
As such an iconic brand, Ariel was keen to fully embrace the challenge of reducing carbon emissions in line with the UK government’s 2050 net zero target. In fact, the business has an aspiration to go above and beyond ‘net zero’…by creating a carbon capture manufacturing facility in Somerset.

In addition to the new site generating electricity via PV solar panels, trees will be planted on the surrounding land to turn the facility into a ‘carbon sink’ that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases. Over time, these exciting developments will hopefully help Ariel go beyond net zero…removing more carbon than it produces overall to become a net negative business.

The net zero journey so far…

SWMAS has a long-standing relationship with the team at Ariel, having worked with them on a variety of business improvement projects since 2014. As a result of continuous growth, they engaged with SWMAS’s Make it Net Zero Programme to ensure that their expanding business was as sustainable as possible going forward. They wanted to better understand their current position and create a strategic net zero road map for their operations and existing/future facilities, allowing them to ultimately reach their net negative goal. Like many other businesses, despite their drive, Ariel were unsure how to approach carbon footprinting and where to start.

Ariel met with a net zero specialist to review existing processes and gather the data required to calculate its current carbon footprint; a vital benchmark that would enable future improvements. The specialist then worked with the business to create a net zero ‘action plan’. This comprehensive plan included a range of actions (detailed below) that would help to lower the company’s emissions in the short to medium term. It also highlighted other longer-term opportunities (like self-generation of clean energy) to be addressed in the future.

The business utilised this valuable information and insight to identify some immediate ‘quick wins’. Importantly, it also allowed them to ratify some of their plans for the new facility, which is currently progressing through the early design phase.

Improvements so far…

  • Completed a detailed Carbon Footprint Analysis Report to understand current business emissions
  • Identified potential carbon savings of 34 Tonnes Co2e* per year, with additional savings gained in future years from self-generation of energy
  • Implemented a practical, net zero strategy to reduce emissions and deliver the aspiration of the ‘carbon capture’ future facility
  • Inspired and encouraged others on their journey by being an exemplar in their sector

Future net zero plans…

  • Self-Generation of clean energy by investing in Solar PV
  • The decarbonisation of company vehicles by switching to Electric/Hybrid or Hydrogen fuels
  • Encourage and support all businesses in their supply chain to decarbonise their operations
  • Engagement and collaboration within their subcontract supply chain
  • Investigate opportunities for onsite carbon capture/offsetting to go beyond net zero

“We’ve always found SWMAS really helpful and supportive. The Make It Net Zero investigation and advice is proving invaluable in structuring our future plans with regard to energy usage and emissions. As a company increasingly involved in zero emission vehicles, it’s important that our working environment reflects our products. The analysis by SWMAS gave us some surprises and an insight into how we could save emissions as well as money, so a big win all round.”
Simon Saunders Managing Director, Ariel

Ariel has some exciting and ambitious plans to go beyond the challenging target of net zero by achieving a net negative carbon facility. It’s been a pleasure to work with them and be involved in an exciting new generation of manufacturing facility that can be both architecturally world class and environmentally low impact. We wish the business every success and plan to support them in the future as plans progress.
Paul Gilbert Manufacturing Specialist, SWMAS

This support was delivered by SWMAS, through their Make it Net Zero Programme and funded by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).


Make it Net Zero logo  HOTSW LEP logo long version

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