Will EVs have a different manufacturing paradigm compared to conventional vehicles? - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Net Zero by Narsi is a series of brief posts by Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi), on decarbonization and climate solutions.
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This is a part of the EV Innovation Intelligence series

Electric vehicles are giving the opportunity to many industry stakeholders to reimagine the vehicle as we know it – be it a car, truck, van or a bus.

As completely new minds such Elon Musk and other bright pioneers from diverse domains such as design, software and even finance start working with a clean slate on what the transportation of the future could look like, many things could change dramatically – including the way a vehicle is manufactured.

Driven by software

EV manufacturing could be quite different from manufacturing conventional automobiles at least in the context of the amount of software used. While most cars and other motor vehicles by 2020 already had a fair amount of software in them, electric vehicles could be full of software. And happening during the three big auto trends of Connected, Autonomous & Shared all of which are driven by software, expect EV manufacturers to have many more software engineers on their teams than do conventional automakers.

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To understand the role of  software and digital solutions in the EV field better, please have a look at this blog post:  EV+IT ecosystem blogs – Insights and Updates

Turnkey EV powertrain development

A trend that is seen in the EV manufacturing sector is the rise of independent powertrain developers. Some of these companies are able to design entire electric powertrains, almost offering a white label electric automotive. This is a new trend and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the EV manufacturing ecosystem.

Innovative EV design

New design paradigms for electrification – motors near or on wheels, for instance – could mean OEMs and even power train makers will need to be clued in to some of these pioneering designs and be able to change their manufacturing methodologies accordingly.

  • Ree’s disruptive technology allows unlimited design capabilities around a completely flat and modular chassis, allowing multiple body configurations on a single platform, increasing volume and efficiency while reducing size and weight along with the time of production and capital. The platform consists of four corners(as the four wheels), each of which can be controlled and altered separately. The platform is a blank canvas for designing an electric vehicle. It offers freedom and ease to a designer or manufacturer in making a vehicle, centered around an electric-enabled chassis. From single-seater utility vehicles to passenger cars, Cargo carriers to freight trucks, a modular platform would serve every category of EVs by reducing their R&D, design, assembly time, and differences.
  • AEV Robotics has built the Modular Vehicle System (MVS). The foundation of every MVS is a robotic base. Connected to the robotic base are functional pods which can be built custom or standard. The system is autonomous ready, lightweight, electric, and connected. It moves people and delivers goods in urban environments. The construction is relatively flat, otherwise known as the skateboard construction. This allows one to mount various other structures on “pods” for taxis, vans, etc. The modular solution is created based on a floor platform that enables the battery to contain an electric motor and other vehicle technology.
  • Tiler, formerly Fesla Charge, has developed a charging tile with a compatible bicycle kickstand, which will allow e-bikes and other light electric vehicles to charge wirelessly through induction. The charging tile will be more cost-effective, less susceptible to vandalism and will take up less space than alternatives such as docking and charging stations.

Next-gen manufacturing

Add to the mix trends such as 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and the possible future paradigms of electric vehicle manufacturing gets a bit more interesting, or if you wish, unpredictable.

EVs have an advantage when it comes to advanced manufacturing – they can start with the most advanced technologies instead of having to switch over to advanced technologies that legacy automakers have to in their existing facilities. While most other manufacturing facilities want to integrate Industry 4.0 techniques in their existing factories, EV manufactures can begin production with robotic controlled manufacturing, additive manufacturing of components, data-driven simulations, software-controlled products etc.

  • 3D printer filament manufacturer Polymaker has partnered with Italian car manufacturer XEV to make 3D printed low-speed electric vehicles (LSEVs). While XEV’s LSEVs aren’t the first-ever 3D printed cars, the partners believe that this is the first example of additive manufacturing vehicles at scale. Technical data of the 750 kg light electric vehicle is as follows. Accordingly, the 2.5 metres long, 1.5 metres wide and almost 1.6 metres high mini electric car will have an electric motor with 7.5 kW continuous output, with a peak output of up to 22 kW being available for 30 seconds. The maximum speed is 70 km/h – so the Yoyo is not suitable for motorways. The energy storage is a lithium iron phosphate battery (LiFePO4) with a capacity of 9.2 kWh, which, according to the manufacturer, is sufficient for a range of 150 km according to UDDS (Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule).

OEMs battery maker partnerships

The EV sector is seeing a slew of partnerships crisscrossing many value chain components. One of the prominent such partnerships are the ones between OEMs and battery makers.  It is not clear whether this will mean that the OEMs will also become part battery makers.

  • Samsung SDI is collaborating with global and local automakers in order to solve the toughest challenges they face. Many major automakers in Europe, USA, and Asia have begun projects with Samsung SDI, and will be introducing vehicles powered by Samsung SDI batteries over the next few years. Samsung SDI has demonstrated its commercial, safety, and technological competitiveness. The first vehicles already on the road with Samsung SDI batteries are Fiat 500e (EV), BMW i3 (EV), BMW i8 (PHEV) and as well as many other electrified models of OEMs.

This is a part of the EV Innovation Intelligence series

Posts in the series

 Tesla’s Valuation | EV’s in different countries | Purpose built EVs | Mainstream Fuel Cells | IT in Emobility | EVs versus ICEs | Advent of China in Emobility | Charging vs Swapping | Micromobility & EVs | Electric Aviation | Li-ion alternatives | Million Mile Battery | Battery Startups versus Giants | Sales & Financing Models | Ultrafast Charging a Norm | Heavy Electric Vehicles | Material Sciences in Emobility | Lithium Scarcity | Solar Power in EV Ecosystem | EV Manufacturing Paradigm | Innovations in Motors | EV Startups – a speciality Oil Companies’ Strategies | EV Adoption Paths | Covid-19 affect on the EV Industry |

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About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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