Leading the Change

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Why a basic knowledge of electric vehicles is vital for the UK automotive manufacturing sector’s continued growth

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) 2017/2018 EV30@30 Campaign forecasts that the number of electric light-duty vehicles (LDVs) on the road could be as high as 220 million in 2030, i.e. a 30% world market sales share; roughly 130 million of those battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and the other 90 million plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs).

One of the stated “implementing actions” required for achieving this goal is the “scale-up of policy research and information exchanges” and is exactly where HSSMI’s Electric Vehicle Powertrain School (EVPS) can provide invaluable assistance to the UK automotive manufacturing sector.

New registrations of plug-in (BEVs and PHEVs) cars in the UK increased by 3,500 in 2013 to approximately 166,000 as of August 2018, in short, the number of these vehicles has increased 50-fold in less than five years. Reflecting this the charging infrastructure network has increased from a few hundred charge points in 2013 to over 5,800 charging points by June 2018. Whilst this may sound promising one must consider that new sales of plug-in vehicles accounted for 39% of the total in Norway, 11.7% in Iceland and 6.3% in Sweden at the end of 2017, but only 2.3% in the UK as of June 2018.

Contrasting this, a fifth of all BEVs produced in Europe were produced in Nissan’s Sunderland plant alone, and with Ford, Jaguar-Land Rover and LEVC all looking to establish high volume EV manufacture in the UK too this trend of a significant trade deficit is only due to continue.

To remedy this, it is essential that those involved with the manufacturing of electric vehicles in any capacity; that means OEM, suppliers, RTOs, standard bodies et al; all have a shared understanding of the fundamental engineering science behind their manufacture.

Without such a consensus of knowledge, conversations between those looking to further establish business in the UK will be limited by misunderstandings over basic engineering requirements, terminology, manufacturing processes, standards interpretation and health & safety; this must be avoided.

Looking even more inwardly, within each organisation there may be large discrepancies between technical, management and commercial staff that slow the deployment of electric vehicle manufacturing programmes.

HSSMI’s EVPS looks to bring together all of those involved and raise their levels of understanding in the fundamentals of lithium-ion cell and battery manufacturing, electric motor manufacturing and overall electric vehicle manufacturing.

In addition to these four cornerstones there may also be the need for specific training modules focusing on the health and safety aspects, fuel cells, infrastructure and second-life applications. It is hoped that through the delivery of this training that the power is returned to the UK automotive manufacturing sector to at minimum look to further reduce its trade deficit, boost the domestic market and cooperate in a way both in R&D and commercially that sets a standard for the rest of the world to follow.


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Written by:

Fergal Harrington-Beatty


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