UK-based environment and engineering consultancy Ricardo has announced that it has received government funding to assess the commercial viability of a facility to assemble battery packs for UK manufacturers producing fewer than 10,000 electrified vehicles per year.
Ricardo will leverage its expertise in niche volume manufacturing, battery R&D, second life and recycling, complex supply chain management and strategic consultancy to ‘level up’ the UK supply chain in critical electric vehicle components, as part of its mission to support the decarbonisation of the global transport and energy sectors.
These UK manufacturers of electric vehicles include some of the world’s best known prestige brands, which create off-highway machines, special vehicles or luxury cars for a customer base in the low thousands. This compares with the hundreds of thousands or millions of vehicles produced for the mass market.
Funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s Automotive Transformation Fund, supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the economic study will consider how to meet the particular battery hardware needs of these diverse manufacturers across a wide range of business sectors, by ensuring a UK supply chain in electric vehicle components.
Martin Starkey, Managing Director for Ricardo Performance Products, said:
“The UK automotive industry has a diverse mix of sector-leading manufacturers. The volume requirements and flexible product specifications of niche volume manufacturers are not aligned with the high-volume outputs from emerging ‘gigafactories’.
“A niche volume battery manufacturing facility will help to establish a robust supply chain for these critical electrification components. In doing so, it will deliver national competitive advantage for the UK, and support the mass adoption of electrification by making it more affordable, helping to contribute to the green bounce back through sustainable practices.”
As part of the study, Ricardo will assess how the proposed facility could help minimise the risk of scaling up the innovation of new battery concepts to niche volumes. Harnessing its expertise in batteries, the company will also explore opportunities to minimise the environmental impact of battery pack manufacture through ‘second life processing’ and recycling of core elements from construction.
Ricardo is also part of the UK-ALUMOTOR consortium, supported by the Driving Electric Revolution Challenge fund through UK Research and Innovation, which seeks to establish a UK supply chain for electric vehicles to deliver next-generation sustainable electric motors.