Repurposing Vehicle Manufacturing Equipment in the Transition to Electrification

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With the ban on diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030 rapidly approaching, HSSMI has been working with automotive manufacturers to help solve questions like:

– Is there any way that Internal Combustion Engine or ICE machinery can be repurposed for producing electric drive units or EDUs?
– Is it required to buy all new machinery to produce electric vehicles?
– What is the most efficient way to transition from ICE to EDU production in terms of time, space and cost?

In the video below, we explain the work we recently undertook to conclude that yes, there is a significant amount of machinery that automotive manufacturers already own that can be repurposed for the manufacture of electric vehicles.


In a recent research project, we worked with a leading UK automotive manufacturer to assess the feasibility of repurposing their existing assets.

We focused on three key aspects – space, time, and cost – and on answering three questions:

– What are the differences in space requirements to produce EDUs as compared to ICE vehicles?
– How quickly can production be ramped up or down to meet variations in demand?
– What are the main cost drivers associated with transitioning to electric vehicle production?

We conducted a market survey to identify equipment gaps and the potential to reuse existing equipment. Then, we drew up concept layouts for EDU production to be able to contrast them with the existing ICE production line layouts. We also looked at aspects related to material handling and logistics.


HSSMI designed this virtual simulation to validate the design and process flow of the various assembly lines. The simulation helped us test our assumptions before any changes were made in real life.

The model provided an indicator of the realistic output that could be expected when switching from ICE to EDU production. Given the clear visualisation, we were able to identify unforeseen issues and areas for further optimisation and flag these to the OEM.

As electric vehicle manufacture is at an early stage, it was important to design the manufacturing strategy, as well as the simulation, with a high degree of flexibility. It is impossible to accurately forecast how quickly electrification will be achieved, and the simulation provided an overview of what would happen in the case of volume and product variations.


Key Findings
Our findings cover three aspects, to correspond to the questions we set out initially. These are space, time, and cost.


We found that, broadly speaking, producing an EDU requires less space than producing an internal combustion engine. This means that, in the transition, some space will be made available, which could be used for production expansion, new product manufacture, or as turnaround space during product changeovers. Furthermore, as EDU manufacturing requires less parts and movement of materials, material flows can be optimised to achieve a much leaner production operation overall.


The designed strategy allowed for a staggered transition from ICE to EDU. ICE facilities can be gradually ramped down and made available for EDU lines to be installed, commissioned, and piloted, while ICE production continues in other areas of the plant. As EDU production volume increases, more areas of the plant can be used, and the ICE equipment can be repurposed. This provides a great advantage in terms of timing in contrast with the traditional approach of building brand new facilities for EDUs.


Our research and strategy concluded that a high level of between 70 and 80% of machining equipment can be typically repurposed or reused directly.  Most of the transportation and automation equipment can be reused for assembly operations. This represents a huge saving in terms of Capex. In terms of Opex, we analysed the required manning strategy for the new EDU manufacturing lines and found that it requires significantly less resources compared to traditional ICE lines. Therefore, further Opex savings can also be expected.

If you’d like to find out more about our work on repurposing or if your manufacturing business requires support in transitioning to electric vehicle production, please get in touch by writing to



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