A pioneering project at the £40 million Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry aims to eradicate the major barriers to electric car ownership.
The leading-edge project – christened EV-Lite – plans to create a high volume manufacturing facility which can produce electric vehicle battery packs for just half the current cost. The high cost of battery packs is putting a brake on electric vehicle sales in the UK and worldwide.
The project is also tackling the problem of battery pack weight, aiming to reduce it by up to a third.
The two-year EV-Lite project is funded by Innovate UK. Experts at the Manufacturing Technology Centre are leading the project and are working with a consortium comprising engineers and scientists from Loughborough University, Unipart, EIG, RDVS Components, the Bluebird Innovation Group and Cenex- the Government-backed centre of excellence for low carbon and battery technology. The project team also includes the Aylesbury-based Centre for Remanufacturing and Re-use which is largely funded by Defra.
Canadian-based battery specialist Electrovaya is supporting the project and has provided a Maya 300 low speed electric vehicle to act as a test bed. The Maya 300 is powered by Electrovaya’s lithium-ion SuperPolymer battery.
Technology Director at the MTC, Ken Young, said the team’s goal was to bring electric vehicles to the masses by tackling the key issues of cost, weight and sustainability.
He said, “The high cost of battery packs is preventing the increased uptake of electric vehicles. A battery pack can cost anything up to £16,000 making electric vehicles significantly more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts. The additional cost is due to over-engineering, performance requirements, manufacturing issues and a lack of high volume manufacture.”
He added, “Innovative design and manufacturing ideas which we are working on will help achieve cost reduction of around 50 per cent and a weight reduction of 30 per cent. The re-designed battery pack will use a whole-life planning approach to allow for re-use and recycling.”
The consortium’s wide spread of technical and industry expertise allows them to explore the whole spectrum of research from manufacturing and assembly to sustainability and recycling.