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Williams joint venture will be UK’s largest electric car battery maker

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Hyperbat will be the UK’s largest independent vehicle battery manufacturer when it opens in early 2019 in Coventry, creating around 90 jobs producing batteries for future hybrid and electric vehicles. Housed in a former Unipart factory, it will sit alongside the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), a partnership between Unipart and Coventry University

The facility provides a future supply chain for UK-based car-makers as their vehicles transition to electric power, with the potential to provide similar solutions to developing marine and aircraft projects in future. The launch customer for Hyperbat batteries is the Aston Martin Rapide E, which will be a limited production run.

“Hybrid and electric vehicles will play a key part in Britain’s cleaner and greener future and this new high-tech facility – inspired by a government funded Advanced Propulsion Centre project – will develop new vehicle battery technologies and create high-skilled jobs in Coventry,” said Greg Clark, business secretary in the UK government. “Through the Industrial Strategy, the government is building on our world leading strengths in auto manufacturing and clean growth, making the UK the go-to place for these technologies and boosting the economic opportunities presented by our transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Williams Advanced Engineering is using its experience of electrifying vehicles, from powering all the cars on the grid of the ABB FIA Formula E championship in rugged and competitive conditions to projects as varied as the Vanda Electrics Dendrobium electric hypercar and Jaguar Vector Racing world speed record-breaking electric boat. Unipart is well-known for its expertise in automotive manufacturing, logistics and supply. It will convert a century-old building, which most recently produced vehicle exhausts, to produce the batteries.

“Today marks a proud day as we bring together two innovative companies to deliver cutting edge technology that will literally power the future of sustainable transport in the UK and beyond,” said Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering. “We are pleased to be working with Unipart, growing a new capability for our sector in this country for hybrid and electric vehicles, securing the on-shore supply chain for the long-term. Hyperbat will also deliver into high performance battery applications beyond automotive, delivering innovative technology and high value manufacturing, as well as jobs for the next generation workforce.”

Carol Burke, Managing Director of Unipart Manufacturing Group, said: “We are delighted to be working with Williams Advanced Engineering on this venture. We have developed an advanced manufacturing facility on our Coventry site – the very site in which the British auto industry produced some of its first petrol vehicles.  It is fitting that this site will now provide clean, sustainable electric batteries that can be tailored to individual auto manufacturer’s requirements and available to a wide range of companies seeking to introduce electric vehicles into their ranges. Using some of the most advanced manufacturing capabilities in this field, Hyperbat’s production facilities will be highly adaptable to meet the changing requirements of future demands, while also addressing opportunities from non-automotive sectors looking to introduce sustainable propulsion into their product ranges.”

The joint venture was inspired by H1PERBAT – an Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC)-funded, Williams Advanced Engineering-led consortium of organisations, set up in 2017, which also includes Unipart, Coventry University, Aston Martin and others. It was established to build a high performance, low volume, flexible battery capability in the UK. The joint venture will also draw on work undertaken by H1PERBAT, which also looked at second life options for car batteries, enabling a long-term sustainable future for the products in both the vehicles and beyond.

The products from the facility will meet global vehicle battery standards, including ISO26262 from the outset.

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