EV technology plays a pivotal role in the Government’s recently published ‘10 point plan’, and the ability to protect our planet through a focus on implementing high performance and sustainable transport methods.
So what does this mean for the UK composites manufacturing industry? Various consortiums and R&D programmes are uniting to help overcome existing supply chain gaps in the industry, as well as offer support to both UK resin chemistry and fibre reinforcement development and bridging the gap between low volume prototype build, and full-scale EV production.
Increasing an EV’s range may require adding more battery weight which means a great connection to lightweight composite materials. It is the stimulus for the whole composites automotive industry. However, the path to adoption hasn’t been easy, and earning a seat at the table of an EV platform supply chain still comes down to meeting production rates and reducing costs.
Major automotive OEMs will require the certainty that car production line targets won’t be compromised on the road to lightweighting demands. For example, it’s important that the huge amounts of prepreg and resins will need to be stored, moved and cut, plus the amount of waste being generated will need to be managed and recycled too – a colossal undertaking. Entire factory footprints need to be redesigned and the SME tier suppliers will need to make huge investments in new equipment and storage - just to provide them with basics components.
The composites industry possesses some wonderful composite production processes, but if the lightweighting trade-off means longer cycle times, we could get all revved up with no place to go.
Mike Richardson, Editor