Friday, September 14, 2018

Two UK Companies Join in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Battery Project  

Jobs Created by New Technology Joint Venture

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Shipping News Feature UK – Two of the main topics of conversation as regards transport come together, Brexit and electrically powered vehicles, with news that a new joint venture between two British companies, Williams Advanced Engineering and the Unipart Manufacturing Group, and titled Hyperbat Limited, will open a facility in Coventry early in 2019 creating around ninety new jobs, at a new, multi-million pound, high-tech plant that will produce batteries for future hybrid and electric vehicles.

With uncertainty around the status of the UK as a manufacturer following the departure from the EU the facility is intended to provide a secure future supply chain for UK based car, and potentially van and truck makers as their vehicles transition to electric power, with the potential to provide similar solutions to developing marine and aircraft projects in future.

Production will start early in 2019 and the initial customer for Hyperbat batteries is the Aston Martin Rapide E, which will be a limited production run. Upon release of the news Business Secretary Greg Clark commented:

"Hybrid and electric vehicles will play a key part in Britain's cleaner and greener future and this new high-tech facility, inspired by a government funded Advanced Propulsion Centre project, will develop new vehicle battery technologies and create high-skilled jobs in Coventry. Through the Industrial Strategy, the government is building on our world leading strengths in auto manufacturing and clean growth, making the UK the go-to place for these technologies and boosting the economic opportunities presented by our transition to a low-carbon economy."

The pedigree of the new partners is well known. Williams Advanced Engineering has years of experience electrifying vehicles, from powering all the cars on the grid of the ABB FIA Formula E championship in rugged and competitive conditions to projects as varied as the Vanda Electrics Dendrobium electric hypercar and Jaguar Vector Racing world speed record-breaking electric boat.

In April 2018 Williams Advanced Engineering won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category for its work translating learning from the Formula E battery project into commercial applications. Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, said:

"Today marks a proud day as we bring together two innovative companies to deliver cutting edge technology that will literally power the future of sustainable transport in the UK and beyond. We are pleased to be working with Unipart, growing a new capability for our sector in this country for hybrid and electric vehicles, securing the on-shore supply chain for the long-term. Hyperbat will also deliver into high performance battery applications beyond automotive, delivering innovative technology and high value manufacturing, as well as jobs for the next generation workforce."

Unipart is well-known for its expertise in automotive manufacturing, logistics and supply. It will use its manufacturing and technological expertise to produce this more environmentally-progressive equipment to fuel the future of road transport. Unipart will convert a century-old building, which most recently produced vehicle exhausts, to produce more environmentally-friendly equipment to power the future of road transport. Managing Director Carol Burke observed:

"We are delighted to be working with Williams Advanced Engineering on this venture. We have developed an advanced manufacturing facility on our Coventry site, the very site in which the British auto industry produced some of its first petrol vehicles. It is fitting that this site will now provide clean, sustainable electric batteries that can be tailored to individual auto manufacturer's requirements and available to a wide range of companies seeking to introduce electric vehicles into their ranges.

”Using some of the most advanced manufacturing capabilities in this field, Hyperbat's production facilities will be highly adaptable to meet the changing requirements of future demands, while also addressing opportunities from non-automotive sectors looking to introduce sustainable propulsion into their product ranges."

Construction will be preceded by an event for stakeholders and customers and the factory will open in early 2019 at the Unipart site in Beresford Avenue, which also houses the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), a partnership between Unipart and Coventry University. The AME will develop the skills and capabilities for the future, both for Hyperbat and for the broader electric vehicle supply chain.

The products from the facility will meet global vehicle battery standards, including ISO26262 from the outset. An example will be exhibited on the Williams Advanced Engineering stand at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicles Show (Hall3 stand 602) from 12-13 of September. Williams personnel will also be on the UK's Advanced Propulsion Centre stand at the Battery Show in Novi, Michigan, USA from 11-13 September to brief industry executives on Hyperbat Limited and its capabilities to power future electric vehicles.

The joint venture was inspired by H1PERBAT, an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) funded, Williams Advanced Engineering-led consortium of organisations, set up in 2017, which also includes Unipart, Coventry University, Aston Martin and others. It was established to build a high performance, low volume, flexible battery capability in the UK. The joint venture will also draw on work undertaken by H1PERBAT, which also looked at second life options for vehicle batteries, enabling a long-term sustainable future for the products in both the vehicles and beyond.

To download a broadcast quality CGI fly-through video of the Hyperbat Limited factory click here.

Photo: The technology powering the new Aston Martin will have ramifications for many electric vehicles in the UK and overseas.

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